CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Workers aged 55 years and older now make up nearly a quarter (23.9 percent) of the U.S. workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And those statistics are likely to increase as more aging workers opt to postpone their dreams of the “golden years” in order to shore up their retirement dollars. This graying of the workforce creates challenges for employers. On the one hand, mass retirement by boomers will create critical gaps in workforce talent and expertise that employers want to avoid. But on the other hand, older workers can mean higher healthcare costs and disability claims. One solution that can help employers maintain their older talent pool while also controlling health costs is to implement healthy aging programs, says Peter Saravis, CEO of Evive Health.
“Most employers today have some kind of wellness program in place, but these programs will not achieve results if they are not engaging older adults to participate and to take responsibility for their health,” said Saravis. “The key is to make sure the program addresses the needs of your most vulnerable populations, including older workers.”
In honor of national Healthy Aging Month, Evive Health is offering employers five tips for increasing engagement of older workers in your wellness program.
- Develop targeted communications that focus on the health issues of older adults. Older adults are at higher risk for developing chronic illnesses and related disabilities. Some of the leading conditions include diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Develop targeted wellness messages that focus on these conditions and encourage regular checkups and preventive actions that can be taken to reduce the risks of the most common illnesses. Offer special events that challenge workers to make lifestyle changes that can prevent the onset of diabetes and heart disease.
- Tell employees what they need to do and help them do it. Generic “calls to action,” such as “Get your colon screening today!” are far less effective than personalized messages that identify a specific health need and encourage action. Today, data mining programs can identify employees who have not had a colon screening, flu shot or other preventive activity and can send a personal message to an employee reminding him, for example, that he hasn’t had a colonoscopy in five years. The message can also provide an appointment time and date, and tell him why the screening is important, how long it will take, how much it will cost, and list a phone number to call to change appointment dates, if needed. Research shows that consumers are more likely to follow through on health needs when given a specific appointment and asked to opt out, rather than giving them a choice to opt in.
- Use interactive decision-support tools. Consumer marketing experts have for decades successfully utilized behavioral decision-support tools, such as check mark boxes and peel-and-stick decision tools, which help individuals make purchasing commitments. Similarly, decision-support tools can help purchasers of healthcare make health commitments. Mailers with “save-the-date” appointment minders or other interactive tools increase engagement in healthy activities.
- Identify potential barriers to engagement. Studies show that the key reasons many employees remain unengaged in their health include: lack of time, feelings of being overwhelmed, cultural or logistical issues, or an inability to understand the value of preventive services. Employers can identify these barriers to health using new technologies that merge health, social and behavioral data to create individual health profiles. By understanding these profiles, employers can develop support tools that assist, educate, motivate and activate individuals to make positive health decisions.
- Track and refine messaging based on results. Today’s engagement technologies automatically track member responses to messaging and then refine and execute new messaging and actionable opportunities based on monthly member health analytics.
“Healthy Aging Month is a perfect time to remind older workers about the importance of health and wellness and to reassess your program’s engagement capabilities,” added Saravis. “The newest health engagement technologies can merge data mining with behavioral economics strategies to increase employee engagement by as much as 19 percent in the first year alone. These early health interventions can reap a lot of health savings over the long term.”
About Evive Health
Founded in 2007, Evive Health is one of the nation’s leading innovators of technology solutions that motivate employees and health plan members to engage in health and wellness activities that improve their health, lower healthcare costs and lead to a happier and healthier lifestyle. Evive Health offers employers and health plans a turnkey, personalized communications solution that works hand in hand with existing wellness, prevention and chronic care programs to significantly increase participation. For more information, visit www.evivehealth.com, or call 312-374-9150.
For Evive Health
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