Wellesley College’s approach to employee wellness encompasses emotional well-being as well as individual health.
Marymichele Delaney and Jan Bruce
Over the last decade, employee wellness programs have continued to expand and change in the workplace. No matter the industry, employers are increasingly prioritizing their wellness programs in an effort to combat rising healthcare costs and support the development of healthy lifestyles in their workforce.
Gradually, over the last few years, corporate wellness initiatives have started to incorporate programs to improve not only physical health, but the emotional wellbeing of employees. Employers are increasingly focused on modifying their employees’ health management behaviors and habits, recognizing their inextricable link with the development of costly conditions and diseases. Wellesley College is one organization that was able to successfully address and improve employee stress and well-being by incorporating a resilience-building program powered by meQuilibrium.
A Tailored Wellness Program
When looking at its aggregated claims data, Wellesley College identified the top three health risk factors of its workforce:
2. Blood pressure
The college then designed its Healthy You Program to target these three areas and create a culture of health on their campus. The goal was to reduce unhealthy behaviors, keep the at-risk population from moving into disease states, and to engage faculty and staff with a stronger adoption rate than with former initiatives.
The college wanted to take a more holistic approach to its employee wellness offerings—with an emphasis on delivering programs and tools in a segmented manner by population and life stage, in order to address individual employee needs.
According to the Towers Watson 2014 Staying@Work survey, 78 percent of employers identify stress as the top risk factor for their workforce. In fact, the indirect costs of poor health, such as absence from work and loss of productivity, may result in two or three times the amount of direct medical costs.
Wellesley College’s holistic approach to wellness has led it to be recognized as one of Boston Business Journal’s Healthiest Employers in 2015 and 2016.
Understanding the need to address employee stress, Wellesley selected the resilience program meQuilibrium because it focused on improving emotional wellbeing and individual health, while reducing stress. meQuilibrium is a digital coaching platform based on the science of resilience. It delivers clinically validated, highly personalized programs that target negative thoughts and beliefs, getting at the root cause of stress and unhealthy behaviors. Wellesley selected a digital platform to provide easy access for those faculty and staff members that can’t make the time to go to a lecture or workshop or don’t wish to participate in group challenges.
meQuilibrium is available to all of our benefits-eligible employees and their spouses and it’s a tool to help people find ways to engage in healthy behaviors Wellesley College found it to play a key role in creating health, supporting behavior change, and keeping cost down on medical claims.
Over the last two years, through the use of meQuilibrium, Wellesley College has reduced the anxiety of participating employees by 15 percent, which was the biggest reported stress factor. Participating employees reduced their stress overall by 3.9 percent. Most importantly, the college’s medical spend is now below both the regional and national trend. What’s more, Wellesley’s rate increase for 2016 is about 30 percent lower than the region.
Additional significant results of the program include:
• 100 percent increase in participation in wellness program as a result of incentive design, going from an initial 11 percent increase in adoption, and of those who participate 45 percent of users engaged every month
• 9 percent increase in thought-focus (the ability to control negative thoughts from distracting us from the task at hand)
• 6 percent increase in the overall resilience of participants
Overall, Wellesley College understood that true wellness encompasses the whole person: their health, well-being, financial needs, work-life balance, and more. Wellesley College’s holistic approach and method of guiding employees through the use of an on-demand digital platform has led them to be recognized as one of Boston Business Journal’s Healthiest Employers in 2015 and 2016.Additionally, a recent survey indicated that the benefits program is one of the top three reasons employees value working at the college.
The institution’s commitment of reinforcing employee’s mental and physical well-being continues to gain momentum and add value to their culture of health.
Marymichele Delaney (@mmdelany) is associate director of human resources, total compensation and operations at Wellesley College and Jan Bruce (@janbruce) is CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium.