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Getting Results-Based Wellness Right, Part Three: Communicating Biometric Screenings, Health Risk Assessments During Open Enrollment and Beyond

BELLEVUE, WA--(Marketwire -11/01/11)- The dual impacts of health care reform and ever-rising health care costs are driving companies to more aggressively push wellness programs and tie those programs to premiums. According to Jennifer Benz, "The addition of wellness programs into the open enrollment mix adds complexity and communication challenges for benefits managers." Jen is the Founder and Chief Strategist of Benz Communications. Limeade Greenline™ is a turn-key solution for results-based wellness created by Worksite Wellness, Limeade, and Benz Communications.

"Whatever the benefit offering, communication that drives employee engagement is key. This is even more important with wellness programs, because they are so personal. Whether the company goal is to have employees get a biometric screening, complete a health risk assessment, or engage in healthy behaviors throughout the year, effective communication is essential," stated Jen.

Benz Communications offers six tips to effectively communicating wellness programs during open enrollment.

1. Connect the dots
Clearly explain how the wellness program is connected to the company's overall benefits strategy. Help employees understand that their participation in the company's wellness program offerings can help keep them healthy, contribute to reducing their need for medical care, and lower the cost of their health care benefits now (when incentives are linked to employee health care premium reductions) and in the future.

2. Make it clear, keep it simple
The names alone of some of the elements of wellness programs -- biometric screenings, health risk assessments -- can seem daunting. Most of us don't understand medical jargon and when we see or hear it, it's overwhelming and often scary. Wellness programs need to be communicated in a way that makes sense to employees. That's why you need to define terms and repeat concepts. Try different formats to say the same things. Don't overwhelm with too much information. Use visuals and bullet points, graphics, charts, and FAQs to ease understanding. This is especially important as benefit plans become more complex. Understanding dispels fear and any resulting resistance.

3. Focus on confidentiality and privacy
Health information is very personal and elicits strong emotional responses. Take care to continually reassure employees that their privacy will be protected and the results of any wellness program medical tests will be kept absolutely confidential. Clearly communicating the company's commitment to maintain employee privacy and confidentiality will inspire confidence, earn respect, and win engagement.

4. Plan for questions and concerns
Remember that change -- even change for the better -- is unsettling. Change involving personal health, combined with all the associated privacy and confidentiality issues, can be that much more unsettling. Employee reactions will vary. Some employees may be resentful of what they perceive to be a "Big Brother" intrusion into their lifestyle choices. Others may be afraid of knowing their own results. Your communication should anticipate and address these reactions. Include user guides and tip sheets that explain how the wellness program works. Anticipate lots of questions. Be sure to respond.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate -- and make it a two-way conversation
We can't say it enough. You must think beyond annual enrollment and talk to your employees and their families all year long. A benefits website on the Internet is the single most important investment you can make that provides easy access to benefits information for employees and family members. Once your site is built, you can add social media tools, like Twitter and/or a blog; these are the easiest and most cost-effective ways to publish a fresh stream of news and relevant updates. These channels also enable two-way dialog with employees and family members. Use the feedback or questions you receive to create new content and evaluate how your programs are working.

6. Keep it engaging
Results depend on employee engagement. According to Limeade CEO Henry Albrecht, the "five rules of engagement" for wellness programs (and wellness program communications) are:

  • Be relevant. Successful programs speak to employees' interests and concerns
  • Be social. Successful programs take a "we're all in this together" approach with relevant health-enhancing activities (challenges) within a social network.
  • Be positive. Positive approaches oriented around well-being improvement encourage rather than threaten; reward rather than punish. They help people feel good and give them the fortitude to tackle what isn't working.
  • Be integrated. Wellness offerings from multiple vendors must be integrated to provide employees with a simple, easy to navigate user experience
  • Be safe. Make sure you've covered all your bases regarding data integrity, safety, security, and regulatory compliance.

About Limeade Greenline™
Limeade GreenLine™ is a turn-key solution for results-based wellness programs that combines onsite screenings, advocacy and coaching from Worksite Wellness; assessment, social improvement, and incentive management from Limeade; and comprehensive communications consulting from Benz Communications. It was designed to help high-performance employers launch and maintain a results-based wellness program that links meaningful financial savings to independently measurable health results. Additional information about Limeade GreenLine™ is available at http://limeade.com.

About Benz Communications
Benz Communications is a benefits communications strategy boutique creating integrated employee benefits campaigns for employers committed to nurturing high-performing and satisfied employees. Benz Communications' clients include Fortune 500 companies, Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For, and small to mid-size companies. Additional information about Benz Communications may be found at http://benzcommunications.com.

About Limeade
Limeade is an online wellness company focused on building happy, healthy, high-performance workforces. Limeade provides a refreshing alternative to traditional, antagonistic wellness approaches, and connects all wellness programs in an integrated, cohesive user experience. Limeade clients include Fortune 100 Best Places to Work companies, healthcare providers, and large, high-performance employers. Additional information about Limeade may be found at http://limeade.com.

About Worksite Wellness
Worksite Wellness is a full service wellness implementation company, leveraging the latest technology, cutting edge research on wellness and human capital, and best-in-class wellness resources and practitioners. Worksite Wellness makes wellness fun and measurable through onsite/web based workshops, data driven wellness campaigns/challenges, biometric screenings and confidential health coaching. Additional information about Worksite Wellness may be found at http://worksitewellness.net.