By: Ellen Kocher

Today, approximately 80% of organizations claim employee well-being is a critical part of their business plans. For younger generations entering the workforce, wellness has become a way of life. Incorporating wellness into workplaces has been shown to improve morale, job satisfaction, overall mood, workplace culture, job performance and, by extension, lives spent outside work. Employees like the way they feel when they have healthy lifestyles and there is tremendous value in having healthy, happy employees. Moreover, studies show that organizations with explicit and well-defined wellness programs tend to both attract and retain better people.

Since most companies have bought into workplace wellness in one form or another, it is more important than ever that it be valuable, affordable and inclusive for all. Organizations are faced with the choice of how to deliver wellness: either “High-Touch” personified relationship-driven programs or “High-Tech” technology-driven programs. This article aims to compare both in order to guide stakeholders to their optimal choice.

Motivational keychain says “High-Touch Wellness”

is essentially delivery of live programs on or off-site through specific wellness coaches working with individuals or groups. Coaches educate, mentor and support people in cultivating positive health choices that assist in achieving health goals through lifestyle and behavior modification. Wellness coaches are health professionals who target not only the physical aspects of well-being but also mind, spirit, and overall lifestyle. On-site wellness coaches are one of the fastest-growing trends in workplace wellness today.

High-Touch Advantages:

  • A personalized approach according to specific needs without a “one size fits all” solution
  • The client has full control of the agenda – so if something didn’t work out the plan can be changed
  • Studies have shown the power of interpersonal support in building courage to try new behaviors beyond education
  • It has been shown that maintaining engagement is more likely with a health coach
  • Extra support and guidance to help break through blocks or obstacles
  • Compassionate motivation and accountability
  • Somebody to listen when one wants or needs to be heard
  • A “no-judgment” zone and safe space where struggles can be shared with someone who can relate
  • Employees (and their relations) can learn strategies for changing lifestyle behaviors influencing personal long-term health and well-being
  • The coaching relationship has been shown to positively empower individuals to create permanent changes that possibly were difficult alone
  • Health coaching has been shown to produce better health outcomes than wellness programs without coaching
  • Evidence supports health coaching with 84% of 43 studies combined reporting improved health outcomes at multiple levels in employees regularly working with health coaches
  • In our “High-Tech” world, “High-Touch” coaching is a way to re-humanize our workplaces
  • Coaches are savvy at helping participants understand their data in a way that’s meaningful and impactful

Person synching their phone to their fitness device.“High-Tech Wellness”

is essentially technology used by individuals and organizations to manage health and wellness. Tech tools provide organizations with the infrastructure to efficiently identify health risk levels of employees in order to develop and deliver programs that motivate, engage and reward. For individuals – through smartphones, apps, computers, and wearables – technology can help track, measure and monitor body functions and actions with real-time feedback supporting informed decisions about specific health behaviors.
Today, technology plays a key role in the development of the most cutting-edge wellness programs allowing companies to monitor employee enrollment, overall return on investment and to pinpoint top health issues. This can include employer-driven initiatives such as: wellness or activity challenges, mobile tech tracking food, activity or sleep, email communication, forum-style message boards, push notifications, social networking, video chat, gamification or online education.

High-Tech Advantages:

  • Cutting Edge
  • Individuals play an active role in their health
  • A 24/7 environment – social and other
  • Instant feedback enhancing engagement
  • Individual capacity to monitor goals and compare performances
  • Motivational alerts or rewards when users reach goals
  • Employers can track participation due to the data-driven nature of tech
  • Employers can adjust and customize programs
  • Employees (and their relations) can learn strategies for changing lifestyle behaviors influencing personal long-term health and well-being
  • Data driven
  • ROI and VOI can be measured by both employer and employee
  • Educational
  • Can be cost effective
  • Can be time efficient

The Best Employee Well-Being Programs…Use BOTH!

Wellness is contagious. Employees talk to one another and share their successes. This momentum and “peer pressure” is one of the most powerful tools in creating a culture of wellness as explored above, both “high-touch” and “high- tech” have undeniable advantages.

An intelligent combination can offer a true population management solution that engages a broad number of employees, motivates them to make long-term behavioral change, and contributes to a stronger employer-employee partnership. Every company can make a difference by giving it some creative thought. Even on tight budgets, a little imagination can go a long way since in wellness, even small changes can compound over time and numbers of lives – and businesses improved.

7 Creative Solutions to Combining High-Touch & High-Tech!

    1. Apply a progressive approach, using people in a high-touch capacity to bolster and back up your high-tech tools
    2. Once a human connection is established, propose wellness coaching by telephone or via the internet
    3. Provide your high-touch coaches with the appropriate hi-tech tools they need to create, manage and communicate with participants
    4. Run regular live sessions – maybe monthly – and supplement with ongoing technology
    5. Provide wellness apps and educational platforms to help employees take charge of their health AND provide live coaching to motivate them to use it on a regular basis!
    6. Create a supportive environment for both high-touch and high tech options, involving stakeholders at every level
    7. It has been shown that despite technological tools, most employees appreciate a combination of high-tech and high-touch options, so ASK YOUR PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!

Please reach out to brainstorm your organizations creative solutions!

Ellen Kocher is an economist and Certified Workplace Wellness Consultant, Master’s Degree in Health & Wellness Coaching, Accredited ICF, Health & Mindful Eating Coach. Educated in the US, she has lived in Switzerland for over 30 years. Following 10 years in the Finance Industry, Ellen understands the challenges of a busy working lifestyle. In 2003 she lost weight and found her new self through nutrition & lifestyle change. She has dedicated the past 15 years to nutrition & workplace wellness promoting a non-diet, mindfulness-based approach to eating, physical activity, holistic health, and self-care. She has coached hundreds of individuals and groups in dozens of organizations to make sustainable lifestyle changes. Ellen recently earned her Worksite Wellness Specialist Certificate through NWI.