December 21, 2017
By: Scott Miller

Engagement is the missing piece for employee wellness programs

When it comes to engagement, too many employers setting up wellness programs have adopted an “if-we-build-it-they-will-come” strategy. What happens when they design a program allowing personalization and access at the right time and right place?

At Accenture, we found out.

In just one year, our 50,000-strong U.S. operation saw participation in its employee wellness program jump from 23 percent to 70 percent. People at Accenture are taking action to take better care of themselves, and appreciate our support.

How did we do it? While many employers rely on standard health and wellness programs from their health plans or other third-party providers, Accenture designed its own program, Accenture Active. It focused on elements that made an immediate impact and drove employees into its existing ecosystem. We added unique rewards for healthier living and emphasized social media outreach.

We also made our program technology-inclusive. Instead of handing out specific devices, we give employees a credit toward purchasing from a selection of popular technology items by selecting a wellness goal. If the employee already has a device they want to use, they get credit instead toward the purchase of a premium fitness app.

The first thing this does is get an employee to make a commitment to a health goal. Then it gives them a tool to immediately translate that goal into action.

When it comes to employee health and wellness programs, the gap between availability and actual use is astounding. For example, our recent research revealed that 95 percent of employers offer wellness programs, but only 5 percent of employees surveyed use them.

We knew we were on the right path early on, when we launched Accenture Active. Within a month, we had 52 percent participation and it grew to 60 percent within four months.

Accenture Active generated over 16,000 comments on our internal social media tool in the first four months alone. Around 3,000 of those comments included a thank you to Accenture for launching the program.

Social media was key to winning engagement in other ways, too, building excitement as participants shared stories and encouragement.

Rewards also drove Accenture Active’s success. Many programs use rewards, but we wanted to offer more choices to drive excitement. We allow participants to earn credits toward a variety of online consumer services they commonly use, which furthers their engagement.

Also boosting engagement was the availability of our program as a mobile app. Mobile technology is where an increasingly large segment of our workforce and their spouses or partners live and learn. In fact, 44 percent of those using the app are spouses or partners of our employees. This gives us a way to communicate directly with them about components like maternity plans. Most employee health and wellness programs don’t have a way to reach out to spouses and partners so components like maternity planning are frequently underutilized.

Accenture Active has succeeded not only in connecting with employees but in deepening a connection that will aid us with employee retention as well as the ultimate goal of a healthier workforce.

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