National Survey Finds Goals, Incentives and Independent Vendors Drive Greater Employee Health Engagement

11/03/10
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MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- November 3, 2010 -- Want to engage employees in improving their health? Set program goals and reward employees. These two factors, paired with hiring an independent primary vendor versus relying on a health plan as an employee health management provider, significantly improve employee engagement in corporate health and wellness programs - according to the results of a national independent employee health engagement survey released today by RedBrick Health.

According to a separate national survey, large employers estimate an average increase in health care costs of 8.9 percent in 2011. As a result, organizations are turning to more aggressive internal health engagement programs to manage and reduce costs. However, employee behavior change and documented results have yet to consistently follow these initiatives - in large part due to lack of employee engagement. Consequently 67 percent of corporate decision makers characterize health improvement programs as "not" or "only slightly" effective at producing health behavior change.

"Employers continue to deploy health management programs to help control costs and improve business performance. Yet year-to-year, these programs yield disappointing sustained engagement rates of less than 20 percent," said Kyle Rolfing, chief executive officer for RedBrick Health. "We found little broad-based research to quantitatively characterize normative engagement rates and to correlate those rates with program designs and processes. That's why we commissioned this survey."

Key Findings
RedBrick Health's survey found three factors to be statistically significant predictors of higher engagement rates:

  • Employers that set measureable program engagement goals experienced 63 percent higher engagement rates, regardless of whether or not the goal was achieved, compared to employers that did not set goals.
  • Employers that provided incentives in any amount experienced average engagement rates nearly 107 percent higher than those employers that did not provide any incentive.
  • Employers relying primarily on an independent health and wellness vendor experienced engagement rates 83 percent higher across core programs than those employers relying on health plans as their primary health and wellness partner.

"We are making substantial R&D investments at RedBrick Health to understand what drives consumer engagement in health," added Rolfing. "We estimate that employers need two to three times the typical engagement rates to have a real tangible impact on the health of their employees. The good news here: driving higher engagement rates is within employers' control."

Complete survey results are available on RedBrick Health's website, including detailed engagement rates by program type, barriers to engagement and RedBrick Health's perspective on future engagement models.

About the Survey
The independent industry survey conducted by SNG Research Corporation and commissioned by RedBrick Health included telephone interviews with 181 human resource leaders responsible for corporate health management program decisions at large to mid-size employers across multiple industries and U.S. geographies between March 11 and April 9, 2010. Respondents were required to work for employers based in the United States, have a health promotion or wellness program in place for at least one year and have at least 1,000 employees. The survey results detail engagement rates across primary program elements including health risk assessments, biometric screenings, telephonic lifestyle coaching, telephonic disease management coaching and online health coaching. Engagement in secondary program elements, such as onsite seminars and team competitions, were also analyzed.

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