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How We're Adapting to a
Remote Culture of Well-Being

In March, our onsite WebMD Health Coaches quickly pivoted from delivering well-being solutions in person to a 100 percent virtual environment. Now seven months into virtual programming, Coaches report that participants are just as, if not more, engaged in their well-being than ever. Check out how our Health Coaches adapted to this new virtual reality.

Thinking outside the building.

Back in March, Gretchen Berry, Director of our Dedicated Well-Being Services Team, issued a challenge to her team. How could we continue to show our value, exceed our clients’ expectations, and use technology to do our jobs effectively in this new environment? Gretchen was blown away by the team’s response. Here’s a sampling of what they came up with:

Daily wellness breaks.

Coaching teams are offering daily 15-minute webinars on a wide range of health topics. One team member hosts the discussion, one monitors chat questions, and, if the topic is exercise, another team member demonstrates.

Walk-and-talk sessions.

Participants join a virtual walking group on their treadmill or take a walk outside. During the 30-minute trek, a coach speaks about a different health topic. Time flies, and the steps add up!

Virtual yoga.

One formerly onsite yoga instructor holds virtual mat and chair yoga sessions. She now leads International Yoga Day for the client and was recently broadcast to their entire global population. We’ve also pivoted to holding virtual workout and yoga sessions internally. We set up meeting invites and send out the recordings after every session, so people can join in real-time or on their own schedule.

Healthy eating demos.

With workplace cafeterias closed, nutrition coaches have taken to their home kitchens to make recipes and share the video clips with employees online. Teams also post their healthy creations on the @webmdhealthcoach Instagram account.

Taking “The Invitational” virtual.

What happens when our popular wellness challenge, The Invitational Team Steps Challenge, can’t be promoted and implemented in person? Hold it anyway—virtually! We just finished The Invitational with one of our large technology clients, and the results were impressive—in just three weeks, participants racked up almost 3 billion steps! That’s the equivalent of walking around the earth 60 times. What’s even more impressive is that this number far exceeds their cumulative step count from last year’s challenge.

The metrics tell us that, although our client went remote, their populations were still engaged and excited to participate in wellness challenges. The key to success was leveraging the company’s wellness champion network, which worked to set up virtual teams and get people excited. And honestly, during this year, we all need something fun like this to look forward to.

Supporting working parents.

When schools closed because of coronavirus, we made a conscious effort to incorporate families into our well-being programming. We invited parents and kids to take part in our cooking demonstrations and yoga classes. And, we came up with brand new offerings like parent and child stretch and creativity breaks.

One of the most popular events has been our parent “coffee chats.” Parents log on to a video chat at a designated time every other week to share stories, tips, and personal challenges for a half hour. During these visits, we partnered with our clients’ Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to create parenting talks on timely topics and share advice to overcome obstacles.

Gretchen Berry shared, “It’s such a stressful time, and being able to laugh and commiserate with other parents has been key to our participants’ mental health—and our own!”

Lending a hand to clients.

We partnered with clients’ health and well-being vendors to create virtual benefits fairs that populations can “attend” to see what benefits are being offered next year. With over 1,000 registrations for one of our health plan’s clients, it was so successful that they plan on using this format moving forward.

With flu season around the corner, several of our clients have asked us to manage drive-thru flu shot clinics. Our team has helped set up tents, secure healthcare providers to administer shots and help spread the word about the importance of receiving a flu vaccine this year.

The takeaways.

It’s been seven months since our onsite Health Coaches went completely virtual, and we’ve learned some valuable lessons that have helped our clients and their populations stay engaged in well-being.

Treat well-being activities like meetings.

Send participants invites so that they can block time on their calendar. They’re more likely to show up when they get that 15-minute meeting alert, and it helps encourage them to block out time to focus on their health.

Communicate often.

In a virtual environment, we can’t rely on cafeteria table tents or posters. Our team worked with clients to promote well-being activities using established communication channels.

Take advantage of “found time” in the day.

For many office workers, having no commute freed up some time in the day to focus on health. We’ve seen an uptick in coaching for weight loss and fitness, and attendance at small group health sessions has also increased.

People need something to look forward to right now.

As 2020 moves along, the days still seem to blur together. Participants report that our sessions provide a much-needed break in the workday as well as the everyday struggles we’re facing.

Several of our clients are now back onsite, and some of our coaches have also returned. They’re working to bring back some of their in-person offerings, though with added safety precautions. For those who remain virtual, we’ll continue to offer online well-being programming. Our Health Coaches have proven that we can still engage and support participants in taking steps toward better health with virtual activities that boost not only their physical wellness, but their mental wellness, too!

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