Why benefits leaders are leveraging analytics early and often

Hint: When it comes to successful employee health and wellness strategies, it’s not just about looking back at what worked

By | 2 minute read | March 27, 2020

Professional woman reviewing data on her laptop.

Too often, employers make the mistake of considering analytics only as a downstream part of their health and wellness strategy. They implement a program and promote it, then hope to measure some impact. This is a big reason why some employee health and wellness programs don’t meet expectations.

However, employers are leveraging data and analytics throughout the process to increase success. Here are three phases when employers can add more analytical rigor to health and benefits management:

1. Getting employee benefits programs right the first time

Starting with the right health and wellness strategy requires more than just adding the next popular program. There are so many options, it’s easy to invest in a strategy unlikely to succeed. Begin with business objectives and work backward. Then let analytics help guide you on what to do and what not to do. Answer these questions:

  • What are the most pressing enterprise employee benefits needs among our population and how do we compare to similar employers?
  • Which of the needs most connect to key business priorities and employee engagement in healthcare?
  • How do we model the impact of potential investments and sell the business case for workforce well-being and the employer cost of healthcare?

2. Improving employee experience and engagement

When efforts are underway, the biggest challenge most employers face is effectively engaging employees. “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply. Getting a critical mass engaged requires positive employee experiences and systematic culture of health approach, with one key component being highly personalized interactions. Let analytics address:

  • Who is or is not engaged, and why?
  • How can we get the right person to the right program at the right time in the right way?
  • Are the programs being delivered as expected and are people being engaged deeply enough to have an impact?

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3. Realizing the upstream and downstream impact

As the population is engaged, don’t wait to measure progress. It’s important to measure both near-term and long-term measures of success. Incremental targets for shorter-term outcomes should be set in advance to provide a means to gauge progress and make adjustments to your employee benefits strategy. It’s also key in keeping organizational stakeholders involved along the way. Questions include:

  • Is the intermediate impact, such as on decision making or behavior change, in line with the outcomes we desire in the long run?
  • Can we tease apart what’s working and what’s not?
  • How do we demonstrate the total business value and get visibility?

Be sure to make the most of your team’s time, energy, and resources. Leveraging analytics to help you set a benefits strategy, engage employees and measure impact will greatly increase the likelihood of driving smarter benefits programs and sustained investment in employee health and wellness.

Learn about Watson Health’s Employer solutions

Read about how to tackle five common employer benefits challenges