March 17, 2020
Twenty-two attendees from 16 companies participated in the call. Companies came from various industries, including: retail; insurance; consumer products/apparel/household; energy production and transmission; technology; pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; manufacturing; banking/financial services; and media.
Purpose of Meeting
Business Group on Health sponsored a 60-minute member conversation on global well-being platforms and engagement. The content of the call was driven by attendee interests and included the topics listed below.
Several call attendees have global well-being platforms, all through Virgin Pulse. Other vendors mentioned as possibilities include Limeade and Castlight, but because the market is still so new, with few players who are truly “global,” many may not be available in the local language and could have challenges with cultural relevance. Virgin Pulse’s strength is having local resources available in key locations for employers around the world; however, members say that the company still has to adapt the platform to make it local and meaningful to each culture so that employees will use it.
Call attendees report having good employee engagement when they implement global challenges and pilots. Registration rates outside the U.S. range from just over 20% to over 50%, and around 80% during challenges (without incentives). One member had over half of employees sign up during a two-country pilot. This company found that working with site and HR leaders to put out communications was the most successful way to encourage engagement. Sending messages from people whom employees know and trust, versus from the vendor, really got people excited and engaged. The company then replicated lessons learned from the pilots before launching its global program.
No call attendees were offering incentives outside the U.S., except for small ones connected to challenges.
Most companies on the call reported having champion programs globally. All are voluntary positions. Most often, the champions at the site level report to a regional lead, who then communicates with a contact at the corporate office. One call attendee talked about the importance of recognizing the efforts of champions, often by spotlighting them and calling them out for good work to help with engagement. A couple of attendees discussed using champions for specific efforts, such as for mental health advocacy initiatives or coronavirus response, as well as ensuring that champions are diverse in order to reflect the employee population.
Call attendees discussed the need to have facilities involved in the champion team. One way to do this is by creating local site committees that can help and partner with one another to brainstorm ideas and programs. Champions can get local leaders involved in simple ways that take little time, such as by inserting a health and well-being slide at the start of a meeting.
Similarly, employee resource groups (ERGs) can act as informal champions for causes they are particularly passionate about. One company shared a story about how its disability-focused ERG provided testimonials about experiences with mental health disorders or autism. In doing so, the group combatted stigma at the grassroots level and created a community among people passionate about mental health, all while allowing employees to have a voice. The health services department could then collaborate with the ERG to offer clinical and evidence-based guidance.
Call attendees were interested in discussing mental health offerings as well as tobacco-free campuses. On the mental health front, employee assistance programs (EAPs) are a foundation of companies’ global strategies. Other programs include:
- Educational and awareness activities aligned with World Mental Health Day;
- Trainings for managers and employees with the goal of changing the culture to one that is more supportive and healthy;
- Testimonials and sharing of experiences that help combat stigma;
- Practical tools and apps to address common mental health conditions like anxiety or depression; and
- Programs like MeQuilibrium globally or in selected countries to improve resilience. Right now, this program will just be in English and will not be culturally adapted by country.
Tobacco-free campuses were noted as a challenge to implement for many companies on the call. Barriers mentioned include not owning office buildings, not having a safe or adequate space nearby for employees to use for smoking and difficulty negotiating with works councils. No one reported having a fully tobacco-free campus policy globally. Several did have facility-free policies, some had designated smoking areas and others did not. Two companies mentioned that unintended consequences of their policies were that all employees went to the edge of the property to smoke, which angered neighbors and could be dangerous in certain areas. As a result, the companies are considering re-instituting smoking areas on-campus.
Call attendees were asked whether they were expected to show a return on investment (ROI) for wellness programs, or whether their companies had shifted to considering value on investment (VOI) instead. One company worked with two global brokers to determine ROI and found that in many countries the infrastructure doesn’t exist to get the data needed for the analysis. Even with these obstacles, the company found a positive ROI. Nonetheless, the company tried not to emphasize ROI and instead focused more on VOI related to absenteeism, presenteeism and engagement. Other companies also mentioned working with their vendors to try to get the data they need to assess ROI, but acknowledged that doing so was a significant challenge.