It's like taking gourmet cooking lessons, but continuing to eat at drive-throughs. It's like buying a highly praised book and leaving it on the shelf. In a similar fashion, your clients' wellness programs might not reach their potential if they are unable to engage employees and change behavior.

 

Employers want wellness and employee engagement programs

Your clients know there's cost-containment value when a wellness program is added to their benefits offerings. Nearly three-quarters of all employers have or want a wellness program with at least a health risk assessment, according to a recent survey.

Studies from Towers Watson consultants show that after the first year of a wellness program, companies can realize a dollar saved in health care costs for every dollar spent. After three years the savings grow to three dollars for every dollar spent.

But wellness programs can't be effective unless their employees use the wellness programs or take personal action because of them. Employers report that the lack of employee engagement is the No. 1 obstacle to getting workers to change their health habits.

In the last analysis, employers strongly desire to get their employees engaged in managing their health, but often don't know where to turn to facilitate it.

 

Brokers can serve as conduits to employee engagement

Here's where you, as a broker, can step in. One-on-one employee enrollment and communications are commonly part of the voluntary benefits sales process. These face-to-face meetings can be used to instill new life into your clients' wellness programs, build relationships and find you a new source of revenue at the same time. Brokers who already sell voluntary benefits know that gaining one-on-one access to an organization's employees is the key component of success in driving employee engagement.

Whether you already sell voluntary benefits or want to expand your product portfolio, the key to getting your foot in the door with new clients is engagement. Work with your employer client to discover the organization's needs in the areas of employee communications and engagement. Then offer to provide specific one-on-one messages as part of the standard enrollment for voluntary benefits, such as:

* Relaying details of a new company-wide wellness program to employees.

* Communicating one-on-one wellness goals and gaining employee commitment to existing programs.

* Messaging the positive benefits around health savings accounts and high deductible health plans.

 

One-on-one meetings connect engagement with new sales

It's important to work with an insurance company that not only helps arrange local enrollment services, but understands and provides wellness solutions as well. As a broker you sell your approach to the employer client, but the enrollment company performs the actual benefits enrollment, communications and engagement services with the employees through one-on-one meetings. Here are three examples:

1) With employee access, enrollers can present each employee with details about a new wellness program. You may have been the firm that sold it to them. Wellness programs can include a health risk assessment, biometrics, health coaching and even the management of the organization's fitness center.

2) If an organization already has a wellness program in place, enrollers can more closely communicate important details and provide specific messages to help realize personal health goals, such as smoking cessation.

3) Enrollers can reinforce the benefits of high deductible plans for the employee by explaining the value of depositing premium savings into a health savings account.

Meanwhile, enrollers will use each opportunity to showcase your line-up of voluntary benefits, matching employee needs to various voluntary products. Some insurers also offer multi-week communication campaigns that prepare employees for one-on-one employee discussions.

Be strategic in fulfilling one of today's most crucial employer goals - accomplishing health-related employee engagement. By serving as a conduit and connector for employee communications, you can win over new clients while expanding your sales through voluntary benefits.

Egleston is assistant vice president of sales administration at Trustmark Voluntary Benefit Solutions, headquartered in Lake Forest, Ill., a provider of life, disability, critical illness and accident coverage specifically for the voluntary market. Reach him at richard.egleston@ trustmarksolutions.com

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