How to build personalization into your wellness program

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The best experiences are often the most personal ones. Buying a pair of new running shoes online, for example, is an easy, convenient transaction. But getting help from a “live” salesperson who is a seasoned marathoner, who listened to you describe your running habits and past injuries, and then suggested a product; well, that’s a deeper, personal, more impactful interaction.

HealthFitness recently conducted research that pointed to ways employers can maximize the significant potential of their wellness programs by focusing on some of the more elusive drivers that can move employees to take action. And we found that employees are seeking a similar level of personalization in their wellness programs.

Why the best wellness experiences are the most personal ones
According to our research, almost 75% of employee wellness program participants said personal touch was important in their health and sought knowledgeable “live” experts —coaches and specialists — who are credible, engaging, easy to access and provide one-on-one support for their specific needs. Specialists help participants sort through health and wellness information, navigate the many options available to them, and determine what will really make a difference to them personally.

Employees want a highly personalized experience and meaningful interaction with experts who understand their lifestyle, habits and goals, and who have a history of helping others like them achieve success.

Employees also say it’s crucial that these professionals help them link their health results to their everyday choices and provide the emotional support that empowers them to take control of their health.

So what does this look like in terms of employee wellness? Here are several ways to build personalization into your wellness program.

Get personal with a health coach
Whether an employee is seeking ways to build healthier habits, or needs help managing a chronic condition, a health coach can help employees meet their health goals — with a tailored approach to fit their specific needs.

An employee who participates in a wellness program benefits more from her health coach who listens and goes deeper to understand her personal values, interests and emotional drivers instead of simply asking questions and dispensing advice.

For example, through active listening, the health coach can learn that the participant who enjoys being outdoors and walking her dog every day is also frequently bothered by asthma symptoms. The coach can help the participant follow her care plan for asthma, email her some tips to help her through allergy season and remind her to set up her exercise tracker that’s available on her program’s web platform either online or via mobile app.

Provide flexibility and free choice
Employees, our research found, rate a customized program as crucial and say that the ability to meet their specific needs will influence their decisions to start and continue participating respectively.

In fact, employees specifically pointed to flexible engagement methods (online, phone, mobile app, in-person) as an important benefit and want the ability to choose their preferred participation method.

Employees value a program that helps them connect their health results to their everyday choices and want information on new programs, tips, deadlines and customized topics that meet their needs. Having the ability to also choose the type and frequency of communication methods helps employees feel like the programs were meant for them as individuals rather than the masses.

Using this insight, all of us in the industry can evaluate health, wellness and fitness programs through a new lens and provide a personal touch to get and keep employees actively engaged in wellness.

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Wellness programs Wellness Health and wellness Employee engagement Benefit communication Employee communications