Caring employer via digital platform
Employers often launch isolated initiatives to improve employee wellbeing, but there is little strategy behind them. AG Health Partner has therefore launched My Health Partner, a digital and human platform that applies a holistic approach to physical, mental, financial, and social well-being. "That turns the company into a caring employer," says general manager Ellen De Vleeschouwer.
AG Health Partner, in collaboration with Ipsos, conducted a survey last year among more than 1,000 employees that gauged the general feeling in the workplace, as well as the likelihood of employees taking time off work, for example due to stress-related illnesses. "One fifth of the employees said they did not feel happy at work," says Ellen De Vleeschouwer. "There was a big difference between employees who see their company as business-like and those who see it as caring. With ‘business-like’ employers, almost half of the employees said they did not feel happy at work. This also has an impact on the likelihood of them having to take time out of the workplace in the coming period. With employers that were perceived as caring, 16 per cent of employees felt they may have to take time out to deal with stress; with employers perceived as business-like, however, this figure rose to a staggering 42 per cent."
Employers are aware of the importance of well-being at work. They launch individual initiatives, sometimes via the intranet, sometimes via e-mail or a poster, but there is little strategy behind them. “HR often complains that ‘the employees say we don't do anything'", explains Ellen De Vleeschouwer. "But that's because they don't centralise the initiatives or communicate about them."
Digital and human
If the overall story is not structured, employees feel as if their employer does not care about them. "Companies can no longer get away with fruit baskets because employees are no longer constantly at the office. As an employer, you must make sure that all employees know who they can turn to when they need support, can source adequate information at home and can also gain access to various welfare initiatives."
That is why AG Health Partner came up with My Health Partner, a digital platform that provides faster access to help and inspiration. It is a central hub that combines initiatives and tackles welfare using a digital approach but without losing the human component. For each company we provide a well-being manager who examines what the organisation is doing, what its objectives are and what actions they need to take. There is room to highlight strategy, as well as company-specific initiatives from the past or future. We also insist on including the contact details of HR business partners, internal and external prevention advisors, and confidential counsellors. This serves not only to make it more personal and human, but also to ensure that employees know where to turn. Employees don’t need to be on My Health Partner non-stop, reading all the articles or following webinars. They just need to know that their company is looking after them and that there is a place to go when they need additional support."
One of the advantages of the platform is that it requires no effort at all on the part of the HR staff or the employer. It removes the administrative workload, guarantees a year-round focus on well-being, and gives each employee a point of reference or an appealing theme. AG Health Partner takes care of communication, enrolment, and registration for all these initiatives. "The practical organisation is too time-consuming for HR. All too often, they push welfare into the hands of an HR employee who is not given enough support. This person may have received no training for this task and then must figure out a policy, find suppliers and organise all the practicalities. It is almost like Pandora's box being opened and quickly closed again. We want to avoid that at all costs."
According to Ellen De Vleeschouwer, the strength lies in providing the underlying figures that show what these efforts deliver. "For many companies, the ambition is to reduce absenteeism. But if you ask them how high the percentage is, they have no idea."
The platform displays statistics and data, which help to make correct adjustments and monitor whether the intervention had an impact. "It allows the employer to monitor what the employees need, along with the level of mental and physical well-being, the programmes or sessions the employees are following and the impact that those sessions have on the risk scores. From the perspective of marketing, it is entirely normal to monitor which newsletters are clicked on, but for an HR manager it is a completely new concept. You see what interests the employees. If they consult the e-learning on sleep, it may be wise to offer information on sleep health."
For blue collar workers too
Is this type of platform a solution for every business? “It takes a while to get used to it”, admits Ellen De Vleeschouwer. She often hears HR professionals say that it is harder to reach out to employees in an industrial environment. She believes, however, that HR should step out of its comfort zone every now and then. "Why should blue collar workers be less digital? When I pass building sites on my lunchtime walk, I see all the construction workers in their cars on their smartphones. So why can't they use the app version of My Health Partner? You just must find good starting points to appeal to this target group. In this context, you should perhaps focus on nudging people towards healthy behaviour. This could be a challenge to drink more water or to count their steps by connecting their Strava or Google Fit to the platform. The tech solutions may be easier for employees who have access to their computers and just need to click through, but we want to move away from the idea that the platform is just for office workers."
Employers often launch isolated initiatives to improve employee wellbeing, but there is little strategy behind them. AG Health Partner has therefore launched My Health Partner, a digital and human platform that applies a holistic approach to physical, mental, financial, and social well-being. "That turns the company into a caring employer," says general manager Ellen De Vleeschouwer.Read more...