You know getting employees and their families to take a more active interest in their own health is the best way to control healthcare expenses. Here’s your best route in.
If anything’s worked to at least soften the blow of year-over-year double-digit healthcare cost hikes, it’s a consumerism-based approach.
Easier said than done.
But there may be something more effective than all the health fairs and body mass index calculators put together: employees themselves. Turns out, people go to their colleagues for health opinions and advice more than almost any other source — even more than their own doctors or pharmacists!
That’s a golden opportunity … if you harness it properly.
Fortunately, a new study on “Health Engagement” by Edelman can help you take full advantage.
Most want to be healthier
First, the good news: The odds are in your favor. Four out of five people consider themselves at least somewhat “health involved.” And interest is building: 63% of folks say they’re becoming more actively engaged than they were.
The bad news: That remaining 20% probably cost you the most to insure.
That’s why you want to take the momentum from the interested folks and use it to make everyone healthier.
Here are some answers to key questions to get you headed in the right direction:
Question 1: How do I know our company has these people?
Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed are “health engaged,” which means they actively seek out health information and share it with those they know.
Think about tapping them and their interest to share what they’re learning, talk up getting a flu shot, the benefits of “desk yoga,” etc.
Question 2: Any specific patterns we should look for?
While they certainly come from all walks of life, there are some patterns. Your “health engaged” are slightly more likely to be women with children.
Question 3: What do people want to know about?
There’s a slew of things people want when it comes to their health. The top four are:
- Addressing issues that affect them personally.
- Covering the health concerns they’re most concerned about.
- Informing them about the risks to any products or services they use.
- Communicating with them openly — both the positive and the negative news.
That last one is huge. People say trust is the No. 1 factor in keeping them engaged about their own health. So whatever info you put out there needs to come from a reliable source.
Question 4: What do people trust?
Just because you know or even trust someone doesn’t mean employees will consider them authorities.
The best authorities out there? Doctors, pharmacists and researchers are considered the most credible. So passing along the latest research or even an article out of the Journal of the American Medical Association might be a good move.
And don’t be afraid to use technology to do it. Employees say e-mail, cell phones and the Web give them a chance to access the most up-to-the-minute health info fast.
You probably want to steer clear of info from your health provider’s Web site or even places like Web MD. Fewer people are relying on magazines, newspapers or what they hear on the radio to make healthier choices. In its place? Everything from medical journals to health-related newsletters.
A few publications strategically placed at your company can raise awareness throughout your entire organization.
And that’s a change you’ll see in your bottom line.