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So many programs available today treat everyone the same. Same tools. Same tasks. Same disappointing results.

From the very beginning, all of us in the well-being industry have strived to help improve the lives of the people we’re able to reach. We share the same goal. And yet, one way or another, so many programs fall short of expectations, with debatable impact on overall health.

On top of that, we measure a program’s success based on business-specific metrics and goals rather than the experience and value provided to individual participants. We’re no longer serving the needs of the individuals we’re trying to help.

Employers and health plans continue to invest more and more money …

The typical U.S. company offers its employees nearly 15 different programs to support their physical and emotional well-being. 1

An overwhelming number of external vendor programs and tools leads to disjointed, and often confusing experiences.

… but fewer people say their well-being program makes them healthy

The number of U.S. employees who believe their well-being program has encouraged them to live a healthier lifestyle is declining, down from 41% in 2011.2

Employees and Employers who believe their well-being programs encourage a healthier lifestyle.

Facing rising employee disinterest and dissatisfaction, employers have searched for bigger carrots to boost participation.

The average incentive amount per participant jumped 42 percent between 2013 and 2017. The average incentive amount for spouses and domestic partners has increased even more: 49 percent between 2013 and 2017, to $694.3

Percentage of U.S. employees who would only participate in company health initiatives if there was a financial reward

Making matters worse, participants feel entitled to rewards.

Nearly half of employees say they won’t participate in a well-being program without a financial incentive.4

Chances are, these statistics don’t surprise you. You may have seen similar numbers already, maybe even with your own program, and a voice in the back of your head has been asking if this is really as good as it gets.

At this rate, by 2021 the average incentive will rise to more than $1,050 and the majority of employees will demand to be paid before they agree to participate. It’s simply not sustainable. At what point will these lavish incentives bankrupt entire programs?

It’s not surprising that so many participants would view their interactions with a well-being program as nothing more than a transaction. Since we’re not offering them what they want or need to live a healthy lifestyle, we can’t really blame them for tuning out.

Employers and employees don’t share the same priorities.

Ask a person about his or her well-being goals and chances are pretty slim that ROI, productivity improvement or “seamless” integration of multiple vendor partners will appear anywhere close to the top of the list. Of course, those metrics are important. They hold us accountable to our clients and define the business value of a well-being program. But they shouldn’t be the #1 priority. They shouldn’t be used to measure the value or relevancy of the program for individual participants.

  • Lose Weight
  • Integration
  • EAP
  • Manage Stress
  • ROI
  • Get More Steps
  • Sleep Better
  • Biometrics Screening
  • Eat Better
  • Diabetes Management
  • Telemedicine
  • Save for Retirement
  • Lose Weight
  • Integration
  • EAP
  • Manage Stress
  • ROI
  • Get More Steps
  • Sleep Better
  • Biometrics Screening
  • Eat Better
  • Diabetes Management
  • Telemedicine
  • Save for Retirement

The silver lining

The good news is that people want help from their employers. About two-thirds of employees believe that employers have a role to play in helping them manage their health. All we have to do is listen to them. 5

How do we change this? How can we be sure we provide an experience that will keep people coming back?

It’s time to make the needs of each individual our top priority.