There is so much happening so rapidly in the area of employee health and well-being as science and technology merge in the workplace. The results are individualized benefits programs that help employees and organizations meet goals at the same time.
— By Kim Persaud
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) names top employers each year, giving a glimpse into what employees value in their places of employment. The top employer in the 17th annual survey was U.S.-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, a first for the company.
The reasons employees gave for their employer being a great company included employees being treated with respect, company values aligned with theirs and the employer exercising social responsibility. The survey also produced open-ended comments from respondents that focused on cost cutting, drug pricing pressures, the political environment around drug regulations, the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and how companies maintain an innovative edge.
Alnylam's CEO and Director John Maraganore told the AAAS that it is so successful in the marketplace because of its workforce. He notes that employees notice innovations in benefits, like its in-house diversity and inclusion team that works on equity in race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Work-life benefits are particularly innovative in that there are programs for working at home but also for spending time on exploratory projects not directly related to the company's R&D projects. The program has produced innovation that gives the company a research and marketplace advantage. Individualized benefits produce measurable results.
Beyond the Menu
Employee benefits programs are no longer a menu of health insurance, retirement plans and vacation/sick leave options. They are now strategies for retaining the most productive and innovative employees, creating a more engaged workforce, and stimulating innovation.
Employee benefits can play a central role in the corporate culture and developing a positive employee experience. To maximize the investment in the programs, the focus has turned to utilizing technology and science to present individualized employee insights and insights for decision-makers.
Benefits are not just an expense to be managed. They are solutions for satisfying a tech-savvy workforce that believes in personal choice.
Like most things today, technology has driven change in health and wellness strategies. Promoting employee health and well-being for the good of people and the company relies on bringing people, science, and technology together to produce an engaged workforce motivated to produce continuous innovation. Convergence means different things to companies, but in the area of health and wellness it means the coming together of critical forces that create experiences that enrich the employee experience.
Intelligent Health and Wellness Solutions
The difference between benefits programs of the past and the programs that understand the dynamics of convergence is that companies today understand they must fulfill employee needs and organizational needs. Benefits are not just an expense to be managed. They are solutions for satisfying a tech-savvy workforce that believes in personal choice.
Successful organizations are using a variety of approaches to transform what health and wellness includes. Alnylam went beyond remote working via technology as a work-life balance benefit and added a program to generate innovation.
IBM Watson Health has helped numerous companies improve their benefits plans and benefits management. Liberty Mutual Insurance took a number of steps to modernize its benefits offerings, including implementing the IBM Benefits Mentor solution that enables employees to determine the bests-fit plans. The IBM Benefits Mentor uses AI to engage and assist employees with different needs. The solution leverages robust analytics and historical claims data, along with personalized data.
An IBM survey found the proactive employers rely heavily on technology to design and manage effective employee benefits plans. The organizations leverage socio-demographic data to create plans around quality of care. Employees access personalized digital experiences that lead to science-based targeted interventions and influence employee behaviors and health outcomes. Predictive analytics forecast future healthcare spending. Proactive employers are using data and benefits optimization tools that include cost-transparency tools, targeted benefits communication and mobile apps supporting health/fitness wearable devices.
Data, Data and More Data
The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) considered organizational realities and the strategic actions that can address them in "Promoting Employee Well-Being" by David Chenoweth, PhD, FAWHP. Data collection and analysis is crucial.
According to the SHRM publication, an organization should develop a health management plan based on valid health risk assessments. The survey data is then supplemented with data like biometric screening data, medical claims, workers' compensation claims, and any other relevant data that improves the quality of the health and wellness program. Rates of absenteeism, disability claims, and healthcare utilization are benchmarked against the industry. Surveys should also measure employee attitudes and behaviors concerning their health and level of peer support for health. The large amount of data is converted into strategic information through analyzation to determine the best policies and strategies for changing employee behaviors.
A new company called Well (well.co) designed an AI-driven health program that delivers individualized concierge-style health services to each member. It is intended to assist employees and their families by delivering health guidance and active assistance that is live and on-demand. The solution is also mobile-friendly, so employees can access it anywhere they are located and any time of day and night. The health insights are data-driven and produces personalized health journeys. The program blends technology, marketing and clinical and consumer data to drive changes in employee behaviors. The idea is to empower people to take control of their health.
Employees and Companies Win
The move toward blending people, technology, and science is intended to simplify a very complex health system in terms of making decisions about things like healthcare plans and identifying strategies to develop and maintain healthy lifestyles.
Companies can leverage science and technologies like AI to personalize their employee health and wellness programs. Organizational leaders gain management intelligence, costs are reduced, employee behavior changes increase productivity, and employees get individualized insights. Employee health and the organization's bottom line improve together.