Working Well

Who Is the Healthiest Employer?

Three contenders for the healthiest employers award spoke about their wellness programs and what makes them successful.

Fitbit recently held its Captivate 2017 conference in Chicago, where health analytics software company Springbuk released their list of the 100 healthiest employers in America. (Photo by Andie Burjek)

Health analytics software company Springbuk held its Healthiest Employers Award Program in the evening at Fitbit’s wellness conference in Chicago on Sept. 19. The event recognized the top 100 companies for wellness. Earlier in the conference, individuals from three of these companies participated in a Q&A panel in which they described their wellness programs and argued why their company should win.

The panel of Healthiest Employers Awards Program candidates provided a lot of solid information on what is considered good wellness now.

The three panelists were Jason Boudrie, director of wellness at OrthoCarolina; Angela Crawford, HR director at Wake County Government; and Shannon Seidt, well-being consultant at Humana. They all have had a wellness program for at least 10 years. The conversation was valuable because although naturally they agreed on many ideas, they had different opinions on certain topics.

I personally played a guessing game on which company was most likely to take the No. 1 spot, if any. I’ll summarize some of the arguments they made, and use a totally arbitrary point system to judge. I was not involved in the actual ranking of these companies. You can make a judgment for yourself.

Also, feel free to share in the comments below. What do you think makes an employer a healthy employer?

  • Humana has dedicated time on the agenda of executive meetings just to talk about wellness efforts. For keeping wellness as a regular part of the conversation, Plus 4.
  • Wake County Government, as a government organization that uses taxpayer money, is especially reliant on return on investment to convince their executive team on wellness initiatives. Before they can do anything with taxpayer funds, they have to prove their case, and as of now they’ve had their program going for over 10 years. Plus 5.
  • OrthoCarolina had a difficult task of getting health care professionals to talk about their own health, said Boudrie. Employees would preach to patients about how they need to take care of themselves, and at a certain point they realized they needed to put their money where their mouth is. This challenge spoke to me because of how much I’ve heard and read about health care employees being unhealthy these past two years; it doesn’t seem uncommon. Plus 2.
  • OrthoCarolina also has a separate email address for wellness. Part of this is because employees tend to have a certain distrust in HR with concerns like, “what will they do with my data?” This was not unique to this company; a common theme at the conference was employee privacy concerns. I enjoyed OrthoCarolina’s solution of compartmentalizing wellness from other HR/benefits-related communications to make employees feel more comfortable. Plus 4.
  • How do you engage disinterested employees? You have to meet people where they are, said Humana’s Seidt. Rather than pushing a particular program, consider what is important to them and what makes that easy. Plus 7 for doing wellness for employees rather than at employees.
  • Boudrie said something similar. There should be a lot of ways to participate, whether that’s financial education courses, mindfulness or something else. Don’t force; come to where the employees are, he added. Plus 7.
  • Requiring biometric screening or else pay a higher cost on insurance is what helped drive engagement, said Wake County’s Crawford. I know this is a popular method in the employer community, but as I’ve written about before in this blog, significant financial rewards/ punishments read as much too coercive for me. Minus 3.
  • The employers also spoke about how they kept their programs going long-term. They all touched upon the same idea. Don’t think that once you have your program up and running, you’re done, said Crawford. The same strategy or idea might not work for long, and you have to be willing to try something new, even if you fear it might fail. Plus 8 for everyone.

My score sheet: Humana, 19; Wake County Government, 10; and OrthoCarolina, 21. I thought Jason Boudrie stated his case very well.

[Related article: “Fitbit Captivate Conference: Behavioral Economics, HIPAA and More”]

None of the panelists got the No. 1 spot. They did, however, crack the top 20 with Wake County Government at 14, Humana at 3 and OrthoCarolina at 2. Wellnext, a manufacturer and distributor of nutritional products, took 1st place.

Andie Burjek is a Workforce associate editorComment below, or email at editors@workforce.com. Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.

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