Jenna is a Health Management Consultant with MMA-East where she collaborates with the Account Management team and Planning & Analytics for Total Health team to provide strategic data-driven client consultation, along with supporting Strategic Initiatives to develop innovative solutions that address mental, physical, social and financial well-being. She has a Master’s of Education focused in Nutrition Education & Consumer Sciences, a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Education & Health Promotion and is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist.
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically impacted the employee experience, as employees had to constantly adjust, learn new skills, and adopt new working models. While some employees thrived under these conditions, others struggled to accept the rapidly changing environment and became burned out, leading to the “Great Resignation” (1). This highlights the importance of employee health and well-being (HWB) programs and services in enhancing the employee experience. A key predictor of a successful HWB initiative in improving health and business outcomes is program integration (2). HWB program integration is thought to be an especially important factor in program participation as it considers an employee’s health needs and connects them with all the appropriate programs and services to enhance the end-user experience across multiple internal or external HWB program partners (2, 3).
Further, research points to the importance of data in designing and operating an organization’s HWB initiative. By leveraging data, organizations can both shape program development and engage employees in taking steps towards better health. Data can drive targeted programs to address specific employee health and healthcare needs and allows organizations to more effectively engage employees based on their unique needs, which supports positive, sustained behavior change overtime. The use of data to inform an organization’s HWB program has been shown to improve the health of the employee population, reduce costs for the organization, and enables the long-term success of the HWB program (4).
This commentary has two primary objectives. First, it aims to explore if organizations that believe their HWB program integration is effective, use their employee HWB data in more ways when designing and operating their HWB program than those that do not believe their program integration is effective. Second, the commentary aims to assess how program integration can impact participation rates in specific program elements. An analysis was performed using data from Version 5.0 of the HERO Health and Well-Being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer© (HERO Scorecard) database. There were 122 unique organizations that completed all relevant sections of Version 5.0 of the HERO Scorecard as of December 31, 2021.
Analyses and results:
Program integration was classified as effective in respondents that indicated that their integration among internal stakeholders and health-related vendors, programs and community organizations to be extremely or very effective at promoting a healthier workforce (n=24). Whereas program integration was classified as not effective in organizations that considered their integration across these multiple partners to be somewhat, not very or not at all effective at promoting a healthier workforce (n=98). These two groups were then compared to assess differences in the ways in which they used their employee HWB data to design and operate their programs. Methods of using employee HWB data to design and operate programs included identifying needs for new programs and services, providing targeted outreach to groups relevant to their needs or gaps in care, personalizing interventions at the individual level, informing health professionals to better support participants, and providing ongoing, real-time feedback to participants.
Results showed that organizations that perceived their HWB program integration as effective (very effective and extremely effective) used their employee HWB data in 3.3 ways on average to design and operate their HWB programs, whereas organizations that perceived their HWB program integration as not effective (somewhat, not very, and not at all effective) only used their HWB data an average of 1.6 ways in designing and operating their programs. Table 1 provides a comparison of organizations that believe their program integration is effective to those that do not in the different ways they use their HWB data to design and operate their organization’s HWB programs.
Table 1: A comparison of organizations that perceive their program integration as effective versus those that do not perceive their program integration as effective by the methods used to design and operate their HWB programs.
|Identify needs||Provide targeted outreach||Personalize interventions||Inform health professionals||Ongoing, real-time feedback|
|Program integration found to be effective||78%||50%||39%||32%||27%|
|Program integration found not effective||47%||15%||6%||4%||0%|
A separate analysis was conducted on a smaller subset of responding organizations to understand how specific program integration practices impacted participation rates in specific program element. The program integration practices included:
- HWB program partners (internal and external) refer individuals to programs and resources provided by other partners
- HWB program partners “warm transfer” individuals to programs and services provided by other partners
- Referral process (by employer or third party) is monitored for volume of referrals
- Partners collaborate as a team to meet regularly, share information, and track outcomes
· There are automated processes for sharing information between partners (e.g., shared vendor portals, regular data exports between vendors, embedded into electronic medical record, etc.)
Participation rates at an organization were assessed by the percentage of eligible employees who completed a health and well-being survey; participated in a company-sponsored biometric screening program; completed at least one interactive coaching session; completed at least one interactive health behavior change intervention, module, or activity through a HWB online platform; earned any amount of financial incentive associated with the HWB initiative; or earned the maximum amount of financial incentives available to earn associated with the HWB initiative.
The results are shown in Table 2. The analyses showed that organizations that automated the process for sharing information between partners (e.g. shared vendor portals, regular data exports between vendors, embedded into electronic records, etc.) had the highest participation rates in HWB survey, biometric screening, and HWB platform use. Organizations that leveraged a referral process (by employer or 3rd party) that monitored for volume of referrals saw the highest percentage of participation in programs where incentives of any amount could be earned. Finally, the results indicate that organizations that took the approach of having HWB program partners (internal and external) refer individuals to programs and resources by other partners saw the highest participation in health coaching.
Table 2: Percentage of organizations who indicated integrating HWB program components in the following ways and its impact on specific program participation rates.
|HWB Program Integration||HWB Survey
|HWB Platform Use
|Earned Incentives- any amount
|Earned Incentives- max amount
|Partners “Warm Transfer”||41.0%||32.4%||14.4%||37.3%||40.8%||21.6%|
n= number of respondents that provided data on participation rates in the HWB program elements listed.
A comparison was run to assess the differences in program participation rates between those that integrated their program in one or more ways (using the approaches listed above) (n=81) versus those with no program integration (n=41). Table 3 shows the results of this comparison. Organizations that integrate their programs in one or more ways showed higher participation rates in all HWB program components assessed, with the greatest differences in participation rates being seen in HWB survey completion (41.9% vs. 26.3%, respectively) and HWB platform use (41.1% vs. 20.2%, respectively).
Table 3: Percentage of organizational participation per program based on no program integration and program integration in 1 or more ways.
|Well-being Program||No Program Integration||Program Integration
1 or more ways
|*Health & Well-being Survey||26.3%||41.9%|
|*Health & Well-being Platform Use||20.2%||41.1%|
|Earned Financial Incentives- any amount||30.8%||42.4%|
|Earned Financial Incentives- max amount||24.9%||27.7%|
* Indicates a difference between the two groups at a significance level of p<0.05
These findings suggest that organizations that perceive their HWB program integration as effective use their HWB data in more ways than organizations that do not perceive their program integration as effective. Further, the Scorecard data point to a positive relationship between program integration and program participation, which may be a result of decreased complexity and time demands for employees to participate when programs are integrated. Given the higher rates of participation in HWB program initiatives when using integrated methods, organizations should consider adopting automated processes for sharing information between partners, such as using shared vendor portals or regular data exports. Further, organizations should make sure there is a warm transfer of individuals between HWB program partners to programs and services provided by other partners, as well as make sure partners collaborate as a team to share information and track outcomes, etc.
- “Why Is Middle Management Leading the Great Resignation?” Shortlister, 29 Apr. 2022, https://www.myshortlister.com/insights/why-is-middle-management-leading-the-great-resignation.
- “Shaping the Employee Experience: How to Design Compelling Practices at the Workplace?” Shortlister, 29 Apr. 2022, https://www.myshortlister.com/insights/shaping-the-employee-experience-how-to-design-compelling-practices-at-the-workplace.
- The Role of Data in Well-Being – WELCOA. https://www.welcoa.org/blog/role-data-well/.
- Imboden, Mary T., et al. “Development and Validity of a Workplace Health Promotion Best Practices Assessment.” Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, vol. 62, no. 1, 2020, pp. 18–24., https://doi.org/10.1097/jom.0000000000001724.