How to use online health platforms to reach decentralized workforces

As workforces become more scattered, how can employers ensure they reach all of their workers through their wellness efforts?

“Today’s environment is very different from what it was in the past, with an increasing number of employees working from home, being on the road, travelling and having no real regular place of business,” said Sarah Murphy, director of strategic market solutions at Green Shield Canada, at Benefits Canada‘s 2018 Healthy Outcomes conference in May.

The challenge is all the more difficult at smaller organizations where those responsible for wellness have to handle their programs on top of a full-time job, Murphy added.

Read: CAA shares journey to a healthy workplace

Online solutions have a part to play in making wellness efforts easier and more measurable for employers of all sizes, she said, speaking about some of the considerations that go into choosing a health platform.

First, a key component is a health risk assessment, she said, noting it should be user-friendly and produce actionable data for both the user and the plan sponsor. For plan members, the data can paint a picture of their overall health and help them develop a customized plan. For plan sponsors, a collective assessment of the workforce can provide a broader snapshot of their health situation.

Once staff are using the system, tracking their progress through an online solution shows workplaces where they need to go next in their efforts to achieve better organizational health, said Murphy. She emphasized that since an online tool may be replacing face-to-face interactions, it’s important for platforms to be as engaging as a personal encounter would be. And finally, if an organization already has wellness efforts underway, the right online tool can integrate these all together, Murphy noted.

Read: Employers urged to boost tracking of obesity efforts

During the presentation, Murphy recommended employers ask the following questions before choosing a platform:

  • What are the costs?
  • Is it customizable?
  • Does it allow an employer to carry on with what is already working in its program?
  • Does it provide organizational insights?
  • Does it also allow an employer to meet the needs of individual employees?
  • Can an employer measure the impact?
  • Does it reinforce what an employer should continue working on?
  • Can the employer build improvements into the portal based on organizational needs?

Read more coverage from the 2018 Healthy Outcomes conference.