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Well at Work

5 Questions Every Employer Should Include in a Wellness RFP

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With a background in corporate leadership in the insurance industry and now working in the corporate wellness space at EXOS, I’ve been involved in hundreds of request for proposals (RFPs). Having been both a purchaser of wellness solutions and now a leading provider of wellness solutions, I’ve found that impactful programs start with smart questions. Here are five questions that most employers fail to include in their RFPs. Add these questions to your next RFP to find a wellness program that positively impacts both your bottom line and your employees.

1. How do you personalize solutions for employees?

In the race for engagement and results, one factor that’s key to success is choosing a program that employees feel fits their lifestyle, job, and health goals. This question is often overlooked, but it’s paramount to how a wellness partner will engage with your employees.

A corporate health care study by Aon Hewitt found that motivating employees to change their behaviors is the number one wellness challenge companies face. In fact, 65 percent of employers said that motivating employees was their biggest concern, while 70 percent noted that increasing utilization of wellness programs was a top desired outcome. The common denominator in both of these statistics is personalization. Every employee needs to feel that wellness solutions fit their lifestyle, and making the programming individualized to the employee’s goal is the most effective way to accomplish this.

2. What type of data will I have access to in order to quantify and track results?

Engagement is often defined by card swipes or logins instead of meaningful data, such as body composition and movement quality. Seek data-driven initiatives that quantify ROI, drive individual impact, and create a culture of wellness.

Data is important for two reasons: the upside and the downside. We know that corporate wellness programs globally claim a significant cost savings for each dollar spent. As with every investment your company makes, you want to beat the industry average. So define parameters and create a plan with the wellness provider to track data regularly.

Our team at EXOS can track details ranging from number and types of workouts an employee completed to their body composition over time and calories burned, and we’re working every day to expand our data set.

Everyone should ask the same of their wellness provider and demand more from wellness solutions. Every wellness provider should have an in-depth answer to what they can measure, how and why they track it, and how employees and employers interact with data on an ongoing basis.

3. How do you provide solutions to sites with limited or no space for fitness equipment and programming?

Let’s say you build a great fitness center at headquarters, but then you’re stuck trying to figure out what to do at your company’s satellite offices, warehouses, and downtown locations where space is at a premium. I’ve seen many companies struggle with this issue, so I like to ask providers what they can do with limited to no equipment.

A wellness provider’s response to this question provides two pieces of insight. First, it shows how they think. I want an innovative provider that thinks outside the box and is equally committed to impacting all employees, not just those who can access fitness equipment. Second, if wellness is going to work at your company, it needs to go beyond the four walls of an on-site clinic, fitness center, or cafeteria. Programming that integrates into your corporate culture can impact employees where they live by showing them how to incorporate simple strategies into their daily lives.

4. What is your company’s experience impacting individuals who are non-movers (people categorized as at-risk who aren’t currently active)?

One response I often hear from employers is that wellness programs help fit people get fitter, and historically this has been the case. Unfortunately, this traditional approach is misdirected and inefficient.

Consider this: Medical costs for obese employees are up to 117 percent higher annually compared to those of normal-weight individuals, according to research published in the journal Health Affairs. In terms of both cost and engagement, your wellness initiative must succeed at reducing the number of individuals in your population who are at the greatest risk for chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and frequent back pain. Wellness programming must be accessible, approachable, and fun for employees who are overweight, disengaged, and have failed in previous attempts to get healthier.

Here’s a quick example: Intel cared so much about impacting their non-movers, that they worked with the EXOS team on a study, which was approved by the Institutional Review Board (an independent review board appointed to review biomedical and behavioral research), to quantify the impact of a new wellness program on a representative sample of Intel employees. In just 14 weeks, the number of employees considered at-risk based on their lipid profile decreased by 30 percent, and the average participant lost 14 pounds of fat and reduced their cholesterol by 5.37 percent.

When choosing a wellness provider, it’s not hard to find a company that can further energize your fit employees, but the real difference is improving engagement and producing results among non-movers.

5. How will your company integrate with our existing wellness solutions?

Most companies already have a wellness program, whether it’s a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) offered through your insurance provider, an employee-led running group, online solution, fitness center, or local gym discount. As a result, the wellness provider you choose should complement what you have in place instead of replicating, or worse, competing with it. That’s why it’s so important for your company to ask how a new wellness provider has approached integration in the past. This will give you a better sense of how the vendor interacts with others. You’ll also learn how they can tailor their products to maximize results and impact your employees.

At EXOS, one solution we employ when working with companies is to start with EXOS Journey, a product that combines online and in-person evaluations for employees with simple strategies to improve their health. EXOS Journey is affordable and requires just a few days and minimal space, and the result is individual programming for your employees as well as a report on your overall employee health. Starting with EXOS Journey identifies the greatest risk areas for your employees, such as their nutrition, movement, or anthropometrics. So it shows where to focus your wellness efforts and how to spend effectively to improve the health of your employees and impact your bottom line.

What RFP questions have you found helpful? Let us know in the comments.

About The Author

John Golden – John Golden is the president of product pioneering at EXOS. He's responsible for the product vision, product development, and building a performance ecosystem at EXOS.

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Tags: Health, Work