Clients that measure every task in terms of immediate ROI are not getting to the heart of the corporate wellness program - the health of their employees.
By shifting the focus to the total wellbeing of employees, your clients lay the foundation for long-term gains. How do you, as their adviser, change the dynamic of the discussion without appearing to skirt the issue of ROI? To borrow a phrase from premier wellness expert Dr. Lee Rice: educate, inspire and motivate.
It's the job of the C-suite to be fiscally responsible. However, when your clients cannot see the big-picture gains due to their need for immediate ROI, corporate wellness programs suffer. It makes your adviser role more challenging, too. You need to broaden your clients' tunnel vision on ROI to see the intangible benefits of a healthy workforce.
Set realistic expectations. Start your wellness discussion by setting realistic expectations. What is it your client wants from the wellness program? How would they define success? If the answer is reducing health care costs, share the results of focusing on specific health risks of an employee population. Show the long-term savings potential of reducing health risks with a sample three-year strategy - illustrating success does not occur overnight.
Make a business case for wellness. Knowing how your clients define success for a corporate wellness program provides you with the trigger point for shifting the conversation from immediate ROI. For example, if your client views every wellness activity as time away from work, educate them on the cost of poor employee health on productivity and absenteeism. Several studies exist, such as the multi-employer study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, that link employee health and productivity. Use that data in an analysis that compares wellness activity time to the cost of doing nothing.
Real world success stories inspire your clients. Look for support from others who have a positive experience with corporate wellness programs.
Connect with other clients. Gain support for your wellness discussions by engaging other clients who "get it." Arrange a meeting where they share their wellness story and best practices. Host a free seminar where you invite clients and prospects or schedule a one-on-one meeting with your two clients.
Coach your wellness champions beforehand so they focus on the big picture and the intangible benefits of a healthy workforce, such as improved morale, lower absenteeism or reduced turnover.
Engage insurance carriers. More carriers are willing to consider value-based benefit designs that encourage health behaviors, such as adherence to prescribed medications. Collaborate with your clients' carriers to explore options for promoting wellness activities. Involve insurance carriers in the discussions and ask the representatives to share industry data and best practices.
Moving that client off the couch requires pushing the right button. When you understand what the barrier is that is stopping your client from moving forward, you discover the key to motivation.
Maybe it occurs by enrolling the C-suite in an executive health program, allowing them first-hand experience into the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Another possibility is offering a cost-neutral strategy for funding wellness initiatives. For example, if the cost of health risk assessments is stalling discussions, try implementing a differential contribution strategy where non-participants' premium dollars cover the cost.
You may have an internal champion who can help bring others around and offer invaluable insight. However you support your case for long-term wellness strategy, changing the discussion dynamic will help your clients see beyond immediate ROI. Getting to the heart of the corporate wellness program offers the greatest return on investment for all.
Taylor, CWPM, is a consultant and certified wellness program manager for Intercare Insurance Solutions in San Diego.
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