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Improve Employee Engagement with an Integrated Approach to Well-Being


Organizations have renewed their focus on employee well-being, seeking to improve the health and productivity of their workforce, as well as more effectively manage costs. The latest Business Group on Health (the Business Group) Large Employer Survey found that 65% of employers emphasize health and well-being as key components of their workforce strategy.[i] By building impactful, innovative programs that make valuable connections with employees, employers can help their people take action to improve their health and well-being.

Yet despite offering a number of benefits and programs, many employers still face challenges engaging employees to take steps toward better health. As organizations move forward with efforts to support and engage employees in their well-being, now is the time to consider how to take programs to the next level. Implementing an integrated strategy where benefit programs seamlessly blend together can more effectively meet the needs of employees and positively impact both their outcomes and medical costs.

Counteracting Fragmentation with Integration

Traditionally, healthcare benefits, including wellness programs, have been fragmented and disconnected as multiple vendors offer overlapping programs that do not communicate with one another, leading to frustration, inefficiency, and poor utilization by employees, as well as redundant costs for employers. Further, the challenges employees face are often complex, involving multiple issues at the same time, requiring a multifaceted approach to effectively resolve each component of the total.

To remedy this, organizations are implementing a cohesive, integrated strategy that addresses employees’ total well-being. This approach goes beyond physical wellness to also consider employees’ mental/emotional, financial, and social health. By connecting physical, psychological, and social health within one workplace well-being strategy, employees are able to more effectively manage a variety of related issues simultaneously.

In addition to meeting the growing demand for convenient, effective benefits services, this more complete view addresses employees’ needs and provides a personalized, integrated solution to help them resolve issues and reach their goals. And by providing seamless access to multiple services simultaneously, it simplifies the experience, increasing engagement and utilization of important services.
Health Advocate

Personalizing Healthcare

Spanning the continuum of employee needs in this way can make the experience of dealing with a health issue easier to navigate for the employee and help to ensure that they take best advantage of their benefits. The result will save employees time and enhance on-the-job productivity. And in a world where time is money, the employer also benefits.

For example, someone with a chronic condition may need help finding a doctor, but they may also be experiencing stress related to dealing with a serious medical condition and paying for needed care. In an integrated model that emphasizes well-being, the employee can quickly and easily get help locating an in-network provider in their area, access financial wellness services and tools to help them find the most cost-effective medication, and understand their out-of-pocket costs. Connecting these resources makes it much easier to identify related needs, gaps in care, and appropriate next steps to help employees get the care and support they need.

Employees are also more likely to use a benefit that’s relevant to their needs and fits their preferences, so in addition to providing tailored services to meet their unique needs, offering access to programs through multiple channels (i.e., text, phone, website, or mobile app) can further drive engagement and utilization. Integrating services around a single point of contact so employees don’t have to spend hours contacting different vendors makes it more likely that they will take advantage of available help.

While there has been an increased emphasis on digital well-being solutions of late, incorporating live support remains critical. The Business Group survey indicates that although 74 percent of respondents indicate virtual health will play a significant role in the future, 84 percent believe integration with in-person care is essential.[ii]

This idea can be applied to wellness programs as well, and having coaching and similar live support available within the program can maximize the impact. Digital health is important, but live support in the way of coaches and other experts is critical to engage employees and provide the personalized, compassionate support needed to motivate action and improve health. This high-tech/high-touch combination enables coaches to more closely collaborate with employees, providing them with the personalized resources and support they need to work toward their well-being goals. Further, when integrated with other benefits solutions, coaches can help guide employees to other programs when assistance is needed for other issues.

Leveraging Data to Drive Engagement

Just as each employee has a different set of needs, each organization’s program will vary in ways that reflect the unique characteristics of their workforce. In order to inform the structure of an integrated well-being program, it is critical to understand which issues are most important to the organization’s employees. Surveying employees and reviewing aggregate health data, including medical claims data, prescription drug use information, biometric screening and other lab results, and personal health assessments, can help steer the direction of a program based on the prioritized health needs of the employee population. In advanced models, workers’ compensation and disability data contribute additional understanding of ongoing and anticipated needs.

Data can also be utilized on a continuous basis to identify employees at risk, stratifying the group so that appropriate interventions to address gaps in care can be implemented. By leveraging the initial aggregate data as a baseline, it is possible to get a view of the impact of interventions and measure year-over-year trends in medical costs, clinical outcomes, and productivity. This approach also allows the employer to tweak the mix of benefits and well-being offerings to meet the changing needs of an evolving workforce.

Taking steps to shift the focus of workplace health and wellness from a traditional standalone, siloed approach to a cohesive benefits strategy can improve employee total health and well-being, enhance engagement, increase productivity, and tackle some of the primary issues that drive healthcare costs. An integrated approach to employee well-being improves efficiency, reduces costs, drives greater employee engagement, and produces better outcomes for both employees and employers.

At Health Advocate, our Well-Being Program is evolving, just like our members. By leveraging an integrated approach focused on four key pillars – Be Well | Be Balanced | Be Connected | Be Successful – we touch on every aspect of well-being. We believe in the value of an integrated health and well-being strategy, and our programs work together seamlessly to address the needs of the whole person and the whole organization: Total health all in one place. Together, we can help your employees thrive. To learn more or schedule a demo of our platform, contact us today.

[i] Business Group on Health. 2023 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey. August 2022. Available at:
[ii] Ibid.

Abbie Leibowitz
Abbie Leibowitz, MD, FAAP

Abbie Leibowitz, M.D., F.A.A.P., is Chief Medical Officer, Founder and President Emeritus at Health Advocate, a leading provider of health advocacy, navigation, well-being and integrated benefits programs, serving more than 12,500 organizations nationwide. Dr. Leibowitz is a nationally recognized leader in the healthcare industry with more than 40 years of experience in managed care, clinical management, quality assurance, and medical data and information systems.

Health Advocate
Health Advocate

Health Advocate has been helping Americans navigate the complexity of the healthcare system for over 20 years. We offer a full range of clinical and administrative services as well as behavioral health and wellness programs supported by medical claims data science and a technology platform that uses machine learning to drive people to engage in their health and well-being.

Health Advocate was a 2022 WELCOA Summit Sponsor. To learn more visit their website.