How to ensure employees act on health data


You've probably already heard the statistics. Every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created. 90% of the world's data has been created in the last two years. The proliferation of health apps available to employers and employees has contributed to the massive data reserves, and whilst the impact on health and wellbeing can be hugely positive, the sheer amount of information available can feel overwhelming.

There's certainly no shortage of information, but collecting data for the sake of it won't impact your business -it's what you do with it that counts.

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence sickness absence is costing the British economy an estimated £15 billion per year. A healthy employee is more happy and productive, so it really is in your interest to help employees make sense of their health data and use it effectively to make positive life changes.

Ask the experts

Whilst your intentions may be pure, often employees can see intervention from their employers into their personal lives as over-stepping the mark. Bringing in a fitness expert to carry out assessments and offer advice can make employees more likely to open up, and the advice given will be seen as more credible.

Rather than being presented with a page of statistics, your expert should be able to interpret any data collected and offer employees the chance to ask any personal questions. This will make them more likely to follow and act on the advice in the long-term.

Ensuring each discussion and piece of information is personalised, and using techniques like motivational interviewing to encourage individual responsibility for any changes can also improve the lasting impact of your programs.

Small, positive lifestyle changes

If an employee says they can't find the time to exercise and your health data suggests they should be hitting the gym five times a week, you should probably take it with a pinch of salt.

No matter how robust the data, complete lifestyle changes will frighten employees and make it much less likely they actually maintain any long-lasting changes.

To prevent this, stick to small, positive changes that fit in with the individual's lifestyle to increase the likelihood of affecting real change.

Realistic and sustainable planning

When looking at data and statistics it can be tempting to focus on short term wins. Drastic diets and intense exercise could have an immediate impact on employee weight loss, but will ultimately turn out to be unsustainable. After the favourable short term statistics fade, weight will inevitably creep back up until you're back where you started.

By creating personalised, realistic and sustainable plans, you can be more confident any improvement in your employees' health will be longlasting. Employees are experts on themselves, so rather than prescribing pre-determined plans, involve them in the decision making. They're more likely to follow goals they've agreed to and feel are fair and achievable.

Measure results regularly and follow up!

Many employers start measuring employee health and using the data with the best intentions but never follow it up. If it isn't on your priority list then it probably isn't on your employees'.

Regular check-ins and measurement will not only ensure wellbeing is top of mind, but it will also give you the opportunity to intervene and change things if they aren't as successful as you'd hoped, rather than waiting for a year and crossing your fingers. Acting on the insight is crucial.

As well as regular check-ins, regular communication of the statistics will keep the momentum of the scheme rolling, and motivate employees to either continue the good work or turn round bad performance.

Regular measurement is also crucial to demonstrate the positive impact of the health data to your employees and to the business. Any improvements to important statistics like absenteeism, presenteeism and business ROI will only enhance the reputation of the program (and you and your team!) with the wider business.

When used properly, health data can be a huge asset to your employees and, ultimately, your business. To ensure this happens it must be used to take positive action, and not just lie dormant in a database.

This article was provided by Westfield Health.  


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