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How WELCOA is Influencing HR and Well-Being Tech

BY: Sara Martin, MS • CEO | WELCOA

The work that WELCOA and our Members are doing looks a lot different than it did a decade ago. One of the biggest shifts has been from outcomes-based models that focused primarily on physical health outcomes, to a more holistic model focused on addressing the most pressing needs of both the business and the employee. The industry of workplace well-being is no stranger to a rapidly changing industry. The evolution of technology has kept us working to ensure we are developing methods that cultivate healthy change.

I was honored to be included on the list of the Top 100 HR Tech Influencers of 2022 designated by Human Resources Executive (HRE) and HR Technology Conference & Exposition. But more importantly, the designation got me thinking about why it matters to celebrate future-focused leaders right now. The workforce as a whole is knee-deep in a pivotal moment that’s shaping the way we do work and we need innovative minds focusing on solving for the greatest needs of employees and employers.

Workplace Well-Being is Changing

In 2021 we surveyed 1000 U.S. employees and 228 U.S. employers to identify the current state of organizational burnout and resilience from multiple perspectives. Overall, the survey identified that there is a mental health crisis that does not seem to be resolving. Employers are doing a lot of great work to address burnout and build more resilient organizations, but there are many unknowns and concerns. Just over half (55%) of respondents believe they have adequately supported their people. The majority (90%) are either concerned or very concerned that their employees are experiencing burnout. As employers work to address workplace issues related to burnout and mental health, survey findings point to an emerging value proposition for these efforts and WELCOA exists to support those efforts.

Employers Are Changing

In order for employers to survive the Great Resignation, grow their businesses, and remain (or become) an employer of choice. They have to change.

When we began seeing the employment crises following the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers initially assumed that people were leaving because they weren’t being paid enough, or didn’t have competitive benefits, but the research found that employees who were considering leaving were citing reasons like, “I don’t feel like my contributions are valued, my boss doesn’t understand the value of my contributions, I don’t feel like I belong here.”

The employers we have success with are the ones thinking critically about how well-being can be positioned to attract, retain and engage their talent. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are businesses that are going to succeed and businesses that will fail. Those that choose not to provide meaningful resources to help their employees solve real problems are going to fail.

Workplace Well-Being is More Valuable Than Ever

Here’s the bottom line of what we’re learning, organizations don’t want to fight to achieve well-being, they want it to be embedded in the culture so there does not have to be this continued struggle through programming. The minute the program ends is the minute that people revert back to their original behavior.

Caring for the well-being of employees is so much more than a program. And no one knows more about human needs or human motivation than the HR professionals who have been in the trenches working to support employee well-being through a global pandemic. We believe well-being propels organizational success by enabling human performance.

WELCOA is Influencing Wellness and HR Tech

An important part of WELCOA’s mission is to support the growth of well-being tech companies that are most in alignment with a more future-focused, human way of approaching worksite well-being. A decade ago we were measuring biometric values and tracking physical health metrics and risks. We at WELCOA have been highlighting research that indicates that while those traditional metrics do eventually matter, what really makes people well—the true determinants of health—sit beneath those metrics and must be addressed first. The pandemic shone an even more powerful light on what needs we must build to help our people achieve: purpose in life, ability to achieve things that are meaningful, belief in our ability to be autonomous and create outcomes for ourselves, and community engagement and social support. Innovative healthcare tech is integrating these true determinants of health into their products and services.

Our audience represents 30,000 engaged contacts in all 50 states, 4,000 of those are WELCOA Member organizations representing 13 million employees. We work to influence and provide value to HR and well-being tech by:
  • Conducting research in focus groups, WELCOA Community groups, large research events, and surveys on the top concerns of employees and employers.
  • Working to provide data and insights to well-being and HR tech vendors.
  • Making the best possible recommendations to well-being and HR professionals for products and services that will make a meaningful impact on individual well-being.
  • Recognizing innovative and forward-thinking well-being tech vendors through The Well-Being Trailblazer Awards.

Educating Workplace Wellness Professionals

A big piece of what we do is we work to connect our members with vendors that have an understanding that true determinants of health have to be integrated into tech.

This looks like educating both our members and our network of vendors that this does not just look like investing in a piece of health or wellness tech and calling it “done”. Our recommendation to our members is that they always do the work of first understanding their wellness goals, identifying barriers, considering the approvals and buy-in they’ll need in order to roll out the tech effectively, and then and only then will they have clear picture of the problem they need to solve and be able to shop effectively for the vendor they need to solve it.

Connecting Professionals with Quality Tech

The type of tech that excites WELCOA is built around the fundamental belief that humans already want to be well, but that many barriers exist in our lives that prevent us from being well. Older models that try to motivate transactionally, nudging people to be well through tracking and rewards, are only successful if all of the environmental barriers are removed so people can interact with tech and engage in those behaviors.

Innovative HR and well-being tech serves to address or remove those barriers in the first place, not make requests to an already overloaded employee to engage in one more task.

WELCOA provides our Members with a marketplace of vetted Premier Providers that are doing this work and connect them with their best clients.

As the workplace well-being industry continues to evolve toward a higher standard, I am excited for WELCOA’s work to be recognized among the other 99 leaders highlighted by HRE and HR Technology Conference & Exposition I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder to innovate for more human-focused work.

Sara Martin
Sara has launched award-winning wellness programs and engineered work environments to create cultures of health across multiple industries. At WELCOA, her role is to ensure you continue to have access to the best products and information so you can achieve your professional and personal wellness goals.