Global health statistics are startling. According to the CDC, more than 50% of U.S. have more than one chronic condition. According to USAID, 20% of the Russian population has hypertension and the World Heart Federation reports that over the last two decades, the overweight population in Mexico has risen from 10% to 68%.
Given these and other disconcerting global trends, there is growing interest among employers to help manage the health of their employees and ultimately increase the productivity and engagement of their workers. More and more, they are looking to health and wellness programs to help them achieve key business outcomes.
Recently, a study, based on the 2011 Generations of Talent study, commissioned by MAXIS Global Benefits Network (GBN), in conjunction with the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, found that while employees place a high value on health and wellness benefits, only 35% of respondents who span 11 countries are satisfied with the programs currently offered. Further, when employees are strongly dissatisfied with these benefits, the data suggests that they are at about 55% of their “maximum” commitment and 78% of their “maximum” work engagement.
The MAXIS GBN study found that levels of satisfaction with programs and the correlating employee engagement varied whether among Millennials, emerging markets or people in poor health. For instance, you might think that healthier, younger workers might not care about wellness benefits, but those at younger ages were more dissatisfied than older workers, and the link between satisfaction, engagement and commitment was stronger. Furthermore, the satisfaction gap between employees’ perceived value of and satisfaction with employer-sponsored health/ wellness initiatives was highest in developing countries such as Brazil, Mexico, India and China. And, across all markets, workers in poor health reported being much less satisfied overall with health and wellness resources. In addition, that low satisfaction negatively colored their perception of how able they are to work.
Clearly, a one size fits all approach is not the answer. While no program can meet all expectations, it is important to ensure a better match between employee needs and benefits offered. A tailored approach is crucial in developing effective health and wellness programs.
Recognizing the gap in satisfaction and employers’ growing need to address the health and productivity of their workforce, MAXIS GBN, a partnership between MetLife and AXA, works closely with companies to develop and implement health strategies for every stage of their employees’ health journey.
MAXIS GBN believes that the answer for employers is to keep it simple, but well-directed:
- Focus efforts on the groups reporting the lowest satisfaction scores. The challenge is to meet the expectations of those who highly value health and wellness but are unhappy with the status quo.
- Seek input from various stakeholders during design, implementation and review of programming. This will help companies to understand what’s working and what’s not. Different workers have different needs and interests which vary by country, age, gender, job, health status and lifestyle.
- Act on it… Think simple. Programming and resources don’t have to be expensive … relevancy to each audience is what counts. Companies should test different programming and communication approaches and see what works.
Companies have an opportunity to broaden their current health and wellness programs by building a global strategy that is linked to in-market initiatives. Taking a holistic view of health and wellness by creating a global strategy will help employees live healthier lives and impact the bottom-line of companies.The strategy should be driven by data and included adapted market-specific solutions.
Senior Vice President, MetLife
General Manager, MAXIS Global Benefits Network