Why Personalisation Underpins Successful Corporate Wellness Strategies | EAPA-SA

Personalisation – from individualised marketing communication to customised products and services – drives success across nearly every industry. The more that products and services can be tailored to personal habits, goals or needs, the more successful a product or service is likely to be. Wellness programmes are no different and making them relevant to each employee matters. The question is, how can organisations effectively personalise their wellness programmes?

By sticking to a one-size-fits-all approach, organisations risk wasting their investment in employee wellness by offering components that are not relevant and that nobody needs or wants. In making a wellness programme relevant, corporate employee wellness initiatives face a double challenge. 

  • Firstly, an effective employee wellness programme must be tailored to be relevant and effective for the organisation that establishes the programme. 
  • Secondly, it also has to be relevant for the individuals who participate – employees and family members – in order to make the programme impactful. 

Getting either side of this equation wrong can diminish a programme’s success. Finding the correct balance begins with the core question, asked from both the employer and employees’ perspective: “What’s in it for me?”

“Organisations and their employees need to see a good result – overall cost-savings for the organisation as well as better health outcomes for employees and their families.”

Get the balance right and the following outcomes can be expected:

  • Better motivation:  Personalisation can help improve employees’ trust, job satisfaction, absenteeism, and psychological wellbeing. 
  • Better knowledge:  Relevant information associated with the programme can be tailored to be relevant to both the organisation and its employees’ needs. 
  • Better engagement: Activities or products that carry personal relevance or meaning will increase engagement and will spur on greater engagement from more employees. 
  • Better results: Organisations and their employees need to see a good result – overall cost-savings for the organisation as well as better health outcomes for employees and their families.


Creating personalised wellness programmes

Every employee has different health and wellbeing needs. Organisations that wish to reach all their employees with relevant wellness initiatives should provide flexibility in how a variety of wellness benefits are provided and taken up. Here are six vital steps for any organisation embarking on a journey of personalising their employee wellness programme:


  • Determine the organisation’s business objectives

The first step is to understand your organisation’s business objectives and connect the elements of a wellness programme directly to these objectives. This entails helping your executives answer the basic questions:

  • Why should the organisation offer a wellness programme?
  • Why now?
  • How will success be measured? ‍

To do this you will need to understand your organisation’s unique health and wellness climate. Beyond cost, what health-related issues are you concerned about? Absenteeism? General health issues such as obesity or stress? Are particular lifestyle-related illnesses a concern?

  • Collect employee data

Information is the foundation of any successful personalised wellness programme. Surveys and assessments, such as biometric tests, will help assess the organisation’s prevailing health and wellness needs. This will enable HR to identify areas that require specific attention. Collecting relevant data can also help to assess the degree of personalisation required, for example whether individual health care plans are required or if certain wellness benefits can be bundled and offered as a selection of packages for employees to pick and choose between.

  • Offer employees a choice

The most vital component of a personalised wellness programme is to offer each employee a choice. Research shows that allowing employees to choose how they will tackle their health and wellbeing goals is fundamental to their motivation and staying power. HR can help to further employee participation in wellness programmes by making it known that employee concerns have been heard without first making assumptions about what each person needs. Broadening and diversifying wellness offerings to include relevant healthcare options, such as offering real-time doctor consultations, access to mental health care solutions via an Employee Assistance Programme, or regular health check-ups will ensure that employees can choose the wellness options that make sense to them.   

  • Centre wellness conversations around employees

The personalisation of wellness programmes requires organisations to truly listen to their employees. Conversations around wellness need to be two-way, where employees feel they are equal stakeholders in their own wellness decisions. For HR, this means getting a sense of where your employees’ wellness stands and how it is changing. It requires creating ways for employees to relay their opinions back to the organisation. Steps that help to facilitate two-way communication can include nominating employees as wellness champions to encourage colleagues to go ahead and choose their personalised wellness programme – and to give feedback. Senior leaders can facilitate personalised wellness adoption by walking the talk and ensuring employee wellness takes the centre stage in their conversations. 

“Senior leaders can facilitate personalised wellness adoption by walking the talk and ensuring employee wellness takes the centre stage in their conversations.”

  • Leverage digital employee wellness tools

The role of digital technology within the employee wellness industry has skyrocketed in recent years. And, digital technology does far more than just offer real-time healthcare facilities for employees. Today, these can be an enabler for organisations seeking to offer personalised wellness solutions to their employees. Digital wellness tools can help HR on-board employees and create customised wellness solutions on a single digital platform. The use of technology in corporate wellness can also help employers monitor and support the wellbeing of their employees. For example, an app might allow an employer to track the progress of their employees and offer personalised support and resources based on their needs.

  • Ensure your wellness provider understands the full programme

Organisations should ensure that their wellness provider knows and understands the overall strategy, employee needs and the make-up of the employee wellness benefit package. This way, the wellness provider can also personalise the plan for companies incorporating company culture or by championing particular aspects. For example, say Tuberculosis – or TB medication adherence – is a concern for an organisation. The wellness plan provider can personalise the plan by ensuring that all health coaches who work with employees are aware of this issue. They can also tie an awareness campaign into the fact that adhering to treatment is actively caring for the protection of fellow workers, and so break down any stigma and build better employee camaraderie. 

People generally live their lives on an ever-changing continuum of “readiness to change”. Some employees will engage in the organisation’s wellness programme while others will not, either because they are either already engaged or they have no interest in making changes. It is important to remember that there is no way to motivate every employee every time. However, you can improve success by:

  • Making access easy. Employee wellness plans offered onsite increase participation.
  • Making the programme convenient. Offer activities during breaks, at lunchtime or online.
  • Make the choices clear. Alternatives and how to participate should be easy to understand.
  • Make the benefits obvious. Make sure to highlight the programme benefits.