health and well-being

How to build an effective employee health and well-being program

How to Build a Level 3.0 Corporate Health and Wellness Program How Complex Programs Differ from Individual Events and How to Get the Most ROI from Organizational Well-Being

Events in recent months have forced many companies to reconsider their attitude towards employee health programs. Many studies have shown that a healthy employee is not only less susceptible to the risk of contracting viral diseases, but even when infected, he carries the disease much easier and faster, which allows the employee to return to work faster, as well as reduce the risk of spreading infection within the team.

An unhealthy, and even more so a chronic sick employee, is a direct and indirect loss for the company. The Health and Wellbeing Program is an HR risk management tool that allows you to reduce risks, including those related to personnel health, as well as improve the efficiency of employees and the organization as a whole.
2019 saw a surge in companies’ interest in well-being programs. However, in most cases, these programs are implemented as separate, often unrelated activities, not to mention such things as HR strategy or People-analytics.
Most of the well-being activities are team-building events and entertainment programs for employees.It is not known how many years it would have taken us to gradually evolve and move to the next level of development of well-being programs (according to the scale proposed by WTW), if COVID-19 had not forced many to not only reconsider approaches to filling programs but, more importantly, to form an understanding of what they are for and how to use them.

The line between companies operating in the Well-being 3.0 paradigm (for example, NLMK, Rosatom, Sberbank, Johnson and Johnson, AstraZeneca, etc.) and companies that continue to use well-being programs is becoming clearer. as a “trick” aimed at increasing the involvement of employees (mainly implemented through “Days of Health” within the framework of VHI contracts).

It might seem that the transition from Well-being 1.0 to Well-being 3.0 is as simple as expanding the list of activities. But this is not the case. There is a huge gap between these two levels. The main differences between them, in my opinion, are as follows.


Well-being 1.0

Well-being 2.0 Well-being 3.0
primary goal Team building, entertainment activities, increased engagement Increased engagement. Reduced staff turnover. The decrease in the level of absenteeism and presenteeism Reducing the risks associated with the health of personnel. The decrease in direct and indirect costs of the company related to personnel. Using the program as a risk management tool.
The presence of a full-fledged program that includes a set of interrelated activities The program consists of separate activities that are not related or weakly related to each other Activities can be related to each other but limited in areas of implementation The activities are part of the same program and complement each other. They cover the main critical points and are aimed at leveling existing and potential risks for both employees and the company
Activities within the program Are entertaining (the goal is to get satisfactory feedback to make the event enjoyable) Have a PR-orientation (“Days of Health” within the framework of the VHI do not have the goal of reaching a large number of employees and changing their lifestyle, but are reduced to consulting 15-20 people) Have a clear goal and metrics to measure each activity, including coverage, participant satisfaction, and behavior change.
Using data when building a program Benchmarking is not used or is used (what activities are conducted by other companies) ICD-10 data are used, identification of risk factors through a survey The data on sick leave, ICD-10, identification of risk factors through a survey, audit of working conditions, food, social and living quarters, external environment, medical infrastructure, medical infrastructure, etc. are used.
Taking into account the company’s business goals and development strategy not The program is not directly linked to the company’s development strategy. It is part of a short or medium-term HR strategy. HR metrics are used The program is tied to the company’s long-term development strategy and takes into account its HR strategy. Used by People-analytics
Program support/employee motivation Information posters / e-mail newsletter Information posters/e-mails, “ambassadors” and “health leaders” from among employees and managers.

Prizes for individual events

Information posters/e-mails, “ambassadors” and “health leaders” from among employees and managers. Motivation system aimed at maintaining the interest of employees to participate, with elements of additional motivation depending on the importance of activities for achieving results for both the employee and the company
Duration of the program Individual events or within the framework of the contract for VHI Usually 1 to 3 years Usually over 3 years
Defining program objectives and KPIs In most cases, absent Basically, indicators are established for satisfaction and the number of participants. A target can be set to reduce absenteeism and presenteeism The goals and objectives are clearly defined within the company’s development strategy. Often there is a link to the economic indicators of the company. Allows for lifestyle changes and the cultivation of well-being habits as an intermediate step towards achieving goals.

Below is a step-by-step algorithm for building a Well-being 3.0 program in a company.

The first step, and one of the most important, is to involve management in the program and build a project team. Without these two components, building an effective system will be difficult and nearly impossible.

  1. Goal setting for health and well-being

Often, when forming a health program, the task is set unclearly and is formulated something like this: “others have it, and we should have it” or “the head-office said that we have a well-being program”.

The goals and objectives of the program should be clearly defined and formulated (it is better if these postulates are endorsed by senior management in order to avoid further reshaping of the main goals and objectives).

When forming goals and objectives, it is necessary to take into account the company’s development strategy, the tasks facing the HR department for the next few years, the analysis of HR metrics and indicators, people-analytics.

  1. A comprehensive audit of the existing system.

A comprehensive audit is aimed at identifying risk areas and the formation of the most effective and economically sound program for their reduction and leveling of possible negative consequences.

It is recommended to include in a comprehensive audit:

– Analysis of morbidity according to ICD-10 for 3 years (appealability according to VHI);

– analysis of data on temporary disability, its duration, positions and jobs with the most frequent sick leave and their causes;

– analysis of data on PMO;

– analysis of SOUT;

– analysis of the company’s standards in the field of personnel health, nutrition, ergonomics, etc .;

– analysis of hygienic factors (working and resting conditions of employees, ergonomics of the workplace, food, social facilities, etc.);

– assessment of social infrastructure and ongoing activities affecting the health of personnel;

– a validated survey of employees on health risks, stress, lifestyle, etc .;

– analysis of focus groups of employees (screening of personnel for the prevalence of risk factors);

– analysis of readiness for changes in personnel behavior in terms of personal health;

– analysis of motives that can influence the formation of a behavior model.

  1. Formation of a “road map” and setting KPIs.

As part of the third stage, a comprehensive strategy is formed, a roadmap is developed to implement the approved strategy, programs are developed as part of a comprehensive strategy aimed at leveling specific risks identified during the audit (for example, those associated with a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, stress etc.).

Incentive schemes are being developed to reward employees for participating in both individual programs and a comprehensive, long-term program.

Key performance indicators are developed and established for the comprehensive program, as well as programs in areas. It is also recommended to link the metrics to the business goals of the company (for example, increasing productivity without changing the production process).

  1. Implementation of the program.

Implementation and implementation of a communication campaign (mobile application, website / page of the health and wellbeing program, printed materials (brochures, posters, etc.), online mailings, holding “Information Days”, recording short motivational videos with company employees).

Implementation of standards for preventive nutrition, ergonomics, etc.

Conducting “Days of Health” on the identified risk factors.

Conducting educational activities in the framework of promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Conducting competitions (challenges) with educational elements to form a stable habit among employees for healthy lifestyle.

Training for “ambassadors” / “health leaders”.

It is recommended to use the concept of “nudging” (pushing to action) to increase the efficiency of the implemented activities (as an example of the successful implementation of this concept, Google can serve as their nutrition program)

Formation of infrastructure that encourages healthy lifestyle. (motivation for walking up the stairs, holding meetings while standing, etc.).

  1. Summing up the results of the reporting period, adjusting the program.

Assessment of the effectiveness of the components of an integrated strategy (assessment of the level of involvement, the level of behavior change).

Evaluation of the effectiveness of the implemented programs (evaluation of each program separately, as well as the cumulative effect).

Development of new programs and activities aimed at further reducing risks in the field of health and well-being of personnel, as well as employee involvement.

The approach proposed above allows us to build an effective comprehensive program that will not only help employees improve their well-being and improve their well-being, but also bring economic benefits to the company itself.

One should not expect that the programs implemented under Well-being 1.0 (“Days of Health” under VHI contracts, stress management training, check-ups, individual programs, etc.) will have an effect in addition to the short-term increase in employee engagement … It makes no sense to hope that after a couple of such “Days of Health” and training, you can get an ROI of five rubles from one ruble invested.

Only a holistic approach can achieve long-term results and expect a return on investment from health and well-being programs, but creating a comprehensive, effective well-being work program will take a lot of effort and time.

PS It can be assumed that some service providers in this area (especially those that have recently emerged) will disagree with the conclusions stated above and will offer their simplified approaches to this topic. In this regard, I would like to emphasize that the above recommendations were prepared on the basis of the experience of a number of large foreign companies, as well as the author’s many years of personal experience in the field of HR.