Thursday, December 30, 2010

Five Reasons to Measure Your 2011 Wellness Program’s Marketing.

This is not about bottom-line results. Not about the contribution of wellness efforts to company health benefits cost-cutting. It’s about quantifying how your internal wellness marketing is doing – the top five reasons to be measuring.

Reason #1: So management can tell stakeholders the good ROI news about wellness.  Even though you’re thinking, “This one’s a no-brainer,” setting up metrics to deliver hard evidence that your firm’s growing investment in wellness programs is paying off is Marketing 101. Whether you’re a marketer or not.*

Writing in Managed Healthcare Executive last March, Kimberly Bonvissutto reported a survey that found 27% of companies do NOT measure the outcomes of their wellness programs. And 65% have no measurable goals for their wellness initiatives.

Without measuring, how are you going to know how you and your program are doing? Proof of performance is seriously important whether you call what you’re doing wellness promotions, or marketing, or just plain “my job.” Fine. Maybe it is a no-brainer – but you still have to work at it.

Reason #2: So you can learn which incentives worked – and which failed miserably. Incentivizing participation does work wellness wonders. It’s been noted that, across a variety of large and small company programs, incentives run the gamut:

…from lower deductibles and copays, which can move a population toward healthier behaviors in the long run, to cash or gift cards, which might drive short-term, immediate behavior, such as participating in a seminar or challenge.

Prove to management that some incentives performed better than others and you’ll have the opportunity (in theory) to keep fine-tuning…and build better participation.

Reason #3: So you can tell people you told ‘em. Several clients have told me that employees occasionally complained, “…the company didn’t tell me” about this or that element or requirement of a wellness program. These clients keep track of the frequency of employee communications about wellness in great detail. So they were able to quote exactly when the complaining employee got communications. And in what formats, too: online communications, print, audio-visual, seminars, and so on.

Do not underrate the self-satisfaction value of told-you-so!

Reason #4: So you can convince people that change is possible. This is the dream goal. The biggest roadblock to employees’ adopting wellness activities is their unwillingness to change their behavior. Of course, this is connected to a lack of commitment by employers – employees will know this. There’s more to measurement here than numbers. Prism Design principal Susan Reeves says:

It's a long process to effect change of people’s behaviors. We need examples, stories to help us marketers, and employees understand realistic results.

Without quantified results, though, you can’t demonstrate change…and changed behaviors is how you prove [3] to everyone that this marvelous wellness thing can in fact be done. Here the stakeholders are both employees and company managers or owners.

Reason #5: So you’ll have something to show for your own efforts. Certainly, as one of the people responsible for promoting your firm’s wellness programs to employees, it’s your goal.

*It’s possible marketing is not actually in your job description – you could be a Human Resources professional or a Corporate Benefits administrator. But demand for program measurement is growing. Maybe my five reasons will give you grounds to add marketing metrics to your wellness roadmap...and pat yourself on the back.

Graphic: Wiki Commons, with thanks.

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