If a company’s health insurance plan covers employees’ spouses, it makes sense for a wellness program to do the same, according to research covered by Employee Benefit News.
The research concludes that, “By allowing spouses to take part in well-being programs, they may drive better participation from employees. Data from the HERO Scorecard support that idea. For example:
- 28% of employees participated in lifestyle coaching if a spouse was involved, compared to 14% with no spousal involvement.
- 88% of employers reported improvements in health risk with spousal involvement, compared to 81% without.
- 70% reported positive impact on medical trend with spousal involvement, compared to 64% without.”
It carries on to say that the benefits are also not just financial: “A 2016 Harvard Business Review survey found that 70% of participants in employee well-being programs felt the program was an indication their employers supported them. Extending wellness support to family members only strengthens that connection. Improving a spouse’s well-being might even make an employee more productive.”
Your Girlfriend Will Make You Eat Your Greens
Spouses and partners are the biggest motivator for wellness activities such as exercise and healthy eating, according to CEB analysis, and have more influence on employees’ health behaviors than doctors, nurses, or other health providers.
However, the most forward-thinking companies go beyond spouses and make use of employees’ entire social networks to encourage healthy behaviors, and improve the offer they provide to employees.
This certainly seems to pay off. CEB data show that receiving encouragement from family and friends to live a healthier lifestyle can lead to an additional $232 of health care savings and productivity gains per employee. There are five easy ways for companies to encourage spouses, and other members of employee social networks, to help employees maintain healthy behaviors.
Target wellness communications and resources to employee spouses and partners: Communicating to employees’ spouses acknowledges the company’s role in improving the health of their family, increasing the likelihood that spouses will take an active role in improving employee health.
Extend participation in wellness programs and events to employees’ friends and families: Allowing friends and family to participate in wellness programs and events invites them to work directly with employees to improve health using the resources available through the wellness program.
Promote family-friendly, cross-organizational competitions outside of work: Family friendly competitions (such as team-based step challenges) engage family and friends in wellness programs, and encourage employees to include them in their wellness efforts.
Use external social networking websites: Sharing wellness information and promotional material on social networking sites, such as Facebook, makes it easier for employees’ wider social network to become informed about healthier lifestyles and more likely to motivate employees.
Expand the scope of wellness incentives to include family-focused goals: Offering wellness incentives for family-specific goals (such as reducing junk food or committing to an hour of physical activity a day) ensures that the entire family is dedicated and included in living a healthier lifestyle.