There are thousands of vendors offering employer solutions designed to improve workers’ health and wellbeing. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the wellness industry is an intensely competitive, fragmented, $8 billion dollar industry. With so many providers and new technologies in the marketplace, it can be challenging for employers to select one, and, frankly, it often takes more than one vendor to provide a range of services that suits the needs and interests of a diverse workforce, as well as the goals of the employer.
Finding wellbeing vendors that are aligned with your company culture takes time. A typical search for a wellbeing vendor, starting with a request for proposal (RFP), takes 90 to 120 days to complete, although a six-month lead time is recommended to ensure that selection, contracting and implementation goes smoothly. While a new program can be launched quickly with all hands on deck, advanced planning is ideal for an employer to create a thoughtful plan with smart communications to maximize employee engagement.
There are several qualities that best-in-class vendors have in common:
1. Wellbeing focus
A program that focuses on physical health alone won’t draw in the majority of your workforce. One employee may be in marathon shape yet have overwhelming debt, while another employee may be excelling in their career yet losing sleep over stressful family issues. Neither is apt to prioritize a “biggest loser” contest over these more pressing wellbeing needs. Wellbeing vendors with a holistic approach and variety of solutions will have the greatest positive impact.
2. Personalized experience
A shiny new wellbeing website may prompt employees to register, but employees need personalized support and encouragement to keep coming back. The more innovative wellbeing vendors provide this experience by using data about the individual’s goals, interests and preferences to provide a portal experience and communication approach tailor-made for them.
3. Proactive account management
A great wellbeing partner will assign a dedicated team to manage your program, including a hands-on approach to initial implementation, troubleshooting employee issues or concerns in a timely manner, and regularly bringing you data and fresh ideas to promote your program. The vendor should have a reasonable account manager to client ratio, depending on the size and revenue of the accounts being managed, and thoughtfully match an account manager with the right experience and skill set to support your company. And, just as you would do in interviewing a job candidate, check references. Ask referring companies about their experience and the strength of their account manager.
4. Actionable data
As vendors vie for employers’ business, they are becoming better at capturing and analyzing data to demonstrate their value. A quality vendor will provide robust reporting on participation, engagement and health outcomes and take the time for meetings at least annually to discuss and strategize based on these results. Some vendors may go the extra mile and seek certification from third-party organizations, such as NCQA, to validate the quality of their services, products and data.
With enough time and proper guidance, it’s possible to find a wellbeing partner that will collaborate with your team to achieve your company’s goals and engage your employees. If you already have vendors in place, be sure to set aside time to evaluate their services and identify ways to optimize your partnership to yield the best results for your workforce.