How Technology Is Boosting Employee Wellness Programs

Authored By: Anna Mittag | Publish Date: 11/08/2017

Approximately three out of four Canadians own a smart phone and many of them reach for it before they even get out of bed. This one small device has become a trusted companion, a way to stay connected with others, to find information, and even manage our personal lives. It has also paved the way for technology to become seamlessly integrated in our day-to-day activities, from banking, shopping, and entertainment to even managing our health.
In fact, according to a recent survey by Catalyst Canada, the use of health apps is on the rise with 30 per cent of respondents having one or two health apps on their phone. With this increased comfort and reliance on digital devices, it stands to reason that technology can greatly facilitate wellness in the workplace, too.
The reality is that many people are sometimes more comfortable asking questions of Google than a real person, especially when it comes to talking about health and mental wellbeing. For example, for an employee, the fear of negative consequences around disability in the workplace is real. But for an employer, the cost of not appropriately addressing their wellness concerns is too high to ignore.

The Benefits Of Digitized Wellness Resources
A benefits program that isn’t being used isn’t effective. From health and personal matters to professional development, employers can better help their employees by ‘meeting them where they are’ through tailored, digitized wellness resources that compliment and boost existing EAPs. Through the use of technology, employers can create a successful wellness program that provides the following benefits:

  • Analytics – Organizations can reduce their healthcare expenses through digital tools by leveraging anonymous user analytics to identify the root causes of absenteeism, disability claims, high drug costs, etc. With this real-time data, they can then produce and push out relevant content to specifically address these factors, from family concerns and mental health issues to cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer, and other disorders.
  • Scalability – From smaller teams to large organizations with staff members spread over wide geographical distances, digital programs can scale well and cost less to distribute than programs that don’t. Digital information in the form of videos, podcasts, and tip sheets can be made available 24/7 to thousands of people at once, making them a highly efficient alternative to waiting for an appointment with HR.
  • Accessibility – Employees are already used to using technology for most everything in their lives, and they want a user experience that is easy and immediate. Putting resources online reduces barriers to accessing needed assistance by keeping the process simple. By just signing in with their smart phone, tablet, or laptop, employees can find the answers they need at their convenience, whenever they need help. Additionally, digital content can be fully accessible for employees who are hearing or visually impaired.
  • Confidentiality – Many people don’t feel comfortable opening themselves up to personal conversations at work, so requiring employees to talk to HR can be a barrier to getting help. Of course, human resources managers are trained to respect employee privacy, but even under the best circumstances many people prefer the anonymity of the internet. With a digital library of resources that includes sensitive topics such as addiction, sexual violence, and suicide, no one has to know who’s accessing what. Employees can feel reassured knowing their inquiries are completely private.
  • Accuracy – Companies invest considerable money printing benefit handbooks and pamphlets, yet these documents run the risk of containing out-dated information and are also costly to reproduce. On the other hand, digital files can be created in a variety of formats such as videos and podcasts, with information from the latest experts or reports. With the ability to update regularly, upload, and distribute quickly, you can ensure your employees have access to the most current, accurate and relevant resources.
  • Breadth – A digital platform allows organizations to reach a greater number of employees at once with an infinite number of topics. Everyone’s situation is unique and employees may require different types of support at any one time, whether related to health and wellness, career planning, or even management tips. By distributing content online, you can offer a more robust wellness program through a digital library at a fraction of the cost of in-person training.

As with every other industry, the future of employee benefits is to leverage technology by providing digital solutions that can boost wellness and engagement in a scalable, cost efficient manner. While it may seem counterintuitive at first, companies who invest in a solid wellness plan can reduce the enormous health expenses that result from absenteeism and lost productivity, while experiencing lower turnover and higher engagement. And it’s a win for employees who ‒ when they feel comfortable with a truly confidential, intuitive process for accessing robust resources ‒ are more likely to feel valued by employers and fulfilled in their jobs. All of which are key factors to maintaining a healthy workplace.

Anna Mittag (LL.B., BCL) is vice-president of operations at LifeSpeak, a digital platform that offers employees around-the-clock access to a wide range of topics related to total well-being.
annamittag@lifespeak.com or visit https://lifespeak.com.


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