"Employers have invested substantial resources to improve the health of their workforce by offering health benefits, workplace health programs and external health management resources," said Larry Boress, MBGH president and CEO. "Unfortunately, in spite of these investments, many employers experience low program participation and disappointing levels of employee understanding and engagement. We're working with employers to combat these problems and explore alternative approaches to benefit design and health improvement programs with the intent to motivate employees to be more responsible for their health."
The research provides employers with key recommendations to supporting employee engagement and health improvement efforts including:
Take into account a company's culture when implementing workplace health and benefit programs. Have strategies in place that build trust – a big influence on employee participation.
Include dependents and other family members in company communication efforts so they can support health improvement and behavior change efforts at home and in their daily lives.
Offer "Benefits-at-a-Glance" resources that include information such as cost comparisons among plans, the actual cost of health services, and benefit/coverage changes that could have an impact on out-of-pocket costs.
Use the results of clinical screening programs and campaigns such as Know Your Numbers as the trigger to get employees to consider making necessary lifestyle changes.
Structure incentives as part of the benefit design to maximize the employer's investment in these resources and to promote value to the employee.
Provide information and resources on resiliency/stress management to help employees handle the extremes of a hectic work and home life.
The next phase of the research series will focus on addressing the significant challenges employers face in successfully communicating health benefits and health improvement programs. In 2012, MBGH will launch an Employer Communications Toolkit on Benefits Literacy and Consumer Engagement. The results will be used to build a best practices communications road map and toolkit for employers that includes templates, resources and employer best practices to help companies increase participation and engagement in their health management programs.
About the Midwest Business Group on Health
Celebrating more than 30 years of advancing value in health care and health benefits management, the non-profit Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) is one of the nation's leading business groups of private and public employers. MBGH's more than 100 members represent over 3 million lives, spending more than $3 billion on health care benefits annually. MBGH member benefits include educational workshops for health benefits management, networking opportunities, research, demonstration projects and community initiatives. MBGH is a founding member of the National Business Coalition on Health. www.mbgh.org