Workforce Health + Benefits

How to Choose the Right Interventions to Improve Employee Health

The human body is a magnificent machine. When treated properly, it is capable of amazing feats and tremendous productivity. When neglected or treated poorly, it can struggle to accomplish the simplest of tasks and become overwhelmed by both physical and mental stress. 

The importance of encouraging your employee population to maintain their health is – without question – huge; but the benefits of an organization providing its employees guidance and support in order to achieve optimal personal well-being is even more important. 

Like the complex house plant that many people have tried but failed to grow, choosing the right combination of care and nurturing can be more difficult than expected. 

Too much water and the plant may become saturated and unable to grow. Too little water and the plant may struggle to develop and die out. When the level of intervention is just right, the plant will flourish and grow to its full potential. 

Treating your workforce with this same care and dedication can sometimes feel just as complex. That is why incorporating the guidance and instruction of a qualified corporate wellness partner can not only ease your burden, but also enhance the overall care your employees receive.

What are Employee Wellness Interventions?

The term wellness intervention has a variety of categories and classifications depending on who you ask. 

By definition, a wellness intervention is a combination of program elements or strategies designed to produce behavior changes or improve health status among individuals or an entire population. 

Examples can include:

  • Health literacy education
  • General lifestyle and wellness coaching
  • Chronic disease management programs
  • Automated video training modules
  • Wellness-related employee challenges to increase/maintain healthy levels of physical activity or improve/maintain healthy food choices
  • Weightwatchers
  • Nutrition counseling

These wellness interventions have the ability to improve the physical and emotional well-being of participants and help sustain your wellness efforts. 

Understanding the specific needs of your workforce is essential in identifying which wellness interventions would best suit their needs and better help them learn methods of managing their own health in a way that works for them.

Types of Employee Wellness Program Interventions

Just like there are a number of available wellness interventions, the manner in which interventions are delivered can vary as well. 

The key to wellness intervention effectiveness is not settling on one single program, but instead implementing a multi-strategy approach. By offering a combination of learning and behavior change experiences, you can reach a larger number of people on a more personal level and improve population-level health and medical cost outcomes. 

Imagine conducting a company-wide assembly or webinar to introduce new wellness interventions, such as wellness coaching and self-guided online courses. Then, as a follow up to that conference, providing online educational trainings and motivational email blasts highlighting monetary incentives and personal health benefits associated with employee participation. 

This multi-strategy approach greatly increases the likelihood that the wellness initiatives and programs will be better understood by the entire organization and more widely-embraced.

Impact of Employee Wellness Programs that Include Interventions

Being able to identify wellness interventions that can positively impact your organization and implement those interventions on a large scale takes proper planning and qualified guidance. 

Accomplishing this feat can benefit your whole company, improving individual well-being, decreasing health costs and improving the overall productivity of your workforce. 

A recent study highlighted the monetary benefits of employee wellness programs with incentives, stating that the average return on investment was $3.27. 

This meant that for every dollar that was spent on the wellness program, the company saved $3.27 because of reduced healthcare costs. It also highlighted the hundreds of additional studies that have identified the same results and encouraged the incorporation of wellness programs within every organization and corporation.1

In addition to the monetary benefits associated with wellness programs with interventions, individual productivity has also been shown to increase dramatically when employee wellness programs that include interventions are introduced. 

Example of Impact: Presenteeism

Physically being at work, but not actually doing work is known as presenteeism. The cost associated with presenteeism due to poor employee health is at least 2 to 3 times greater than direct health care costs; but this incredible statistic rarely gets the same attention by employers.2

In addition:

  • Smokers were 28% more likely to have high presenteeism than non-smokers
  • Employees with an unhealthy diet were 66% more likely to have high presenteeism than those who regularly ate fruits, veggies, and whole grains
  • Employees who didn’t exercise very much were 50% more likely to have higher presenteeism than employees who were exercise regularly

These findings reinforce the notion that poor health behaviors are strongly associated with high levels of presenteeism and poor productivity.3

Wellness programs focusing on employee health directly benefit their well-being and have been shown to positively impact their overall productivity. 

4 Steps to Selecting the Right Interventions for Your Employee Wellness Program

Focusing on the specific needs of those within your organization is an excellent place to start when trying to decide which wellness programs and interventions to introduce. 

A few key strategies to choosing the right interventions to improve employee health may include:

1. Assess your organization’s health and well-being needs.

While we know that on average 75% of employer related healthcare spending is attributed to preventable health risks, what are the health risks that are most prevalent in your organization?

Without biometric and claims data to guide your wellness program, you’re going off of assumptions and averages. Making program selections based on the breakdown of risks in your population, employees’ readiness to change, and preferred learning styles will lead to better utilization, engagement and outcomes.

Take your understanding a step further by assessing employees’ perception and impacts of their home, social and work environments to create strategies and offerings that will help them overcome barriers to wellness that may be outside the traditional realm of wellness.

2. Set universal program goals and objectives.

What are your desired outcomes, population demographics that may impact success, past experience and results with wellness? What do you NEED to achieve, what do you WANT to achieve, and what’s the breakdown of short-term versus long-term goals for your program?

3. Determine the available budget and potential incentives to offer.

It’s important to allocate budget and put your money where your mouth is when it comes to any business initiative, including wellness. It’s important you’re just paying for programs and resources for employees, like coaching, but also planning and allocating part of that budget for incentives to engage in health-promoting activities and interventions.

While it can be difficult to estimate your workforce participation on your own, your wellness vendor should help you estimate your wellness investment, including how much you should expect to spend on the program AND meaningful incentives for participation. 

4. Select your intervention strategies.

Make sure that your strategy is comprehensive and includes elements of motivation, education and support for individual change, and is supported by the culture, environment and policies of the company.

These steps will allow you to gauge the overall perspectives of the employee population within your organization and begin constructing a wellness program that is tailored specifically to their needs and perspectives.

What to Consider When Selecting a New Behavior Change Intervention 

Health coaching and education are extremely important interventions to support employees in meeting their health goals and are most effective as part of a larger organizational wellness initiative and cultural movement. 

With so many coaching and behavior change program options out there, what should you look for to select the right one? When you begin the vetting process, make sure the interventions you choose to support employees are:

  • Evidence-based. An evidence-based approach constantly looks at new research and studies and re-evaluates practice based on findings.
  • Comprehensive. Interventions should cover diverse goals or health risks, and can support additional facets of employee well-being that may be outside the box of traditional wellness programs, such as emotional or financial well-being.
  • Accessible. Members know they are available and can easily engage on a frequent basis to remain engaged over time. 
  • Personalized. Interventions must be supportive on an individual level, providing practical recommendations to overcome obstacles to health improvement.
  • Meaningful. Interventions must require real engagement to produce real results.  

Cleveland Clinic eCoaching Checks All the Boxes 

Give your employees the support they need (and deserve) to meet their health goals by pairing them with a dedicated Cleveland Clinic eCoach. Participants receive personalized education, guidance and motivation from their coach every day via email to keep them accountable to their goals.

eCoaching Outcomes:

  • Average weight lost: 4.7 lbs
  • Average waist circumference reduction: 2 inches
  • Tobacco Quit Rate: 54%
  • 90% satisfaction rating

Get Started


1 National Center for Biotechnology Information. Medical cost analysis of a school district worksite wellness program. Accessed July 22, 2019.

2 National Center for Biotechnology Information. Pharmaceuticals and worker productivity loss: a critical review of the literature. Accessed July 22, 2019.

3 National Center for Biotechnology Information. Presenteeism according to healthy behaviors, physical health, and work environment. Accessed July 22, 2019.

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