When thinking about an organization’s culture of health, you may find the following analogy useful.
Culture exerts a powerful influence on our thinking and behavior. But what is culture? Essentially, culture comprises influences from the physical environment along with social interactions and norms of expected behaviors. Workplace culture surrounds us so ubiquitously, we are often unaware of its influence—much like the proverbial water surrounding a fish.
Imagine swimming in a river. How strong is the current? How hard do you have to “swim” to be healthy? For employers observing the physical and social environment, how hard do people have to work to be healthy? The influence of culture is no more complicated than that.
Swimming: People maintain their habits with some constant effort, like bringing their own food or exercising on weekends.
Floating: Access to healthy food plus physical activity and positive social interactions encourage health and healthy choices.
Sinking: The social and physical environment actively impede people’s efforts to be healthy.
How do you know if your culture is making people sink or helping them swim? Do managers encourage people to take lunch breaks? Are healthy food options accessible and affordable? Do people talk about health goals and offer suggestions or support? Or is it taboo to discuss anything but work at work?
A strong well-being initiative—if well designed—is a great practice to help people float. Offering many ways to engage (online activity tracking, easy-to-use apps, digital and live coaching, for example) helps ensure there is something for everyone. Cooperative challenges can bring out social support and help set new norms.
Watch out for riptides
Free food is akin to the rip current that can “suck us out to sea,” off course from our goals. Free food is psychologically hard to resist and is often accompanied by social pressure. It can lead to an emotional downward spiral when a spike of insulin leads to inevitable afternoon energy crash.
The power of culture is that it can work against us and derail us from our goals, or support our efforts so that we almost float along, maintaining and improving our health.
The key to creating a culture of health is making it visible and incorporating social support. Here are some steps to improve the culture and help people float when it comes to health:
Check in with yourself
How is your week going? Are you swimming, floating or sinking? A week with travel, intense meetings, work demands and/or hectic schedules might have you underwater, when it comes to your health. Remember that all it takes is a few strokes—a salad here, a 10-minute power walk there, simple stretches before meetings, a gratefulness exercise—to get your swimming with the tide. Try a walking meeting with a co-worker, or simply a walking break. Make a point to keep the conversation positive. For example, ask what things are going well for them or what they are grateful for.
Keep calm and swim on!
To learn more about building a successful Culture of Health, and how RedBrick Health Culture Check can help, see our research here.
Culture helps determine the performance of any organization. A supportive Culture of Health can be directly linked to productivity, safety and employee engagement.
While employers are exploring new ways to increase productivity and retain talent, employees are asking more of their employers than ever before. This has a significant impact on workplace culture. A supportive culture for health is vital to making employees feel valued and not just a means to the bottom line. The key is to create alignment around a healthy culture initiative throughout the organization. Otherwise, the initiative can seem insufficient and superficial. That alignment does not have to be perfect; people understand that it’s a workplace, not Utopia. But being authentic and transparent about an intention to support employees makes a difference in creating and sustaining a healthy culture.
While there are multiple factors that can influence the success or failure of a Culture of Health, these are the most essential:
The leaders of any organization set the tone and expectations within the workplace. If leaders demonstrate healthy habits and visible support for well-being programs, it is more likely that the employees will do the same. Employee participation and engagement rates are closely related to leadership and management support of a well-being program within the workplace.
Supportive Workplace Policies
Policies that support healthy behaviors can help drive momentum by helping employees stay on track with their own health goals. When a Culture of Health is embedded in a workplace’s policies, people are more likely to work healthy behaviors into their everyday lives.
Manager and Peer Support
Encouraging social health to promote healthy behavior is critical for creating a workplace Culture of Health. An environment in which managers support health and well-being, and co-workers are made to feel comfortable talking about their health journeys, can create a supportive and trustworthy Culture of Health.
Comprehensive Wellness Programs
Well-being is more than physical health. It encompasses mental health, emotional health, social health, financial health and more. A comprehensive well-being program addresses them all,
employing research-backed behavior change theory and smart incentive design to encourage meaningful, habit-forming changes.
Features in the Physical Environment
Examples of features in the workplace’s physical environment that encourage healthy behaviors include a meditation room, walking paths, adjustable standing desks and healthier food in the employee cafeteria.
In addition, important aspects of a healthy workplace culture are often overlooked, such as employee trust in the organization, workplace stress and job security among employees. For example, employees may not participate in well-being initiatives in times of job insecurity, as they may not want to be seen with “extra time on their hands.” By capturing information on underlying dynamics, these issues can also be addressed.
Even the best, most well-intentioned well-being programs will languish in an unsupportive culture. But a supportive, vital Culture of Health will pay immediate and ongoing dividends.
How has your organization created a successful Culture of Health? We’d love to hear from you. Write us at CultureCheck@RedBrickHealth.com and share your story.
January 30th, 2017
Part 2 of a 2-part series
In part 1 of our series, we began highlighting comments from our recently sponsored expert panel webinar, Financial Well-Being: What It Is and Why It Matters. The panelists discussed how financial well-being and health are connected, as well as how behavior finance is used to help people make better financial decisions. In this post, we’ll summarize the panelists’ discussion on getting and keeping people involved in taking steps toward positive financial decisions and how to get them excited.
How can employers get and keep people involved? There’s incentivizing, but what else is out there?
Beyond incentives, the panelists explained that in order to see improvement and have repeat users, companies need to do more than educate. They need to present tools and resources in a way that will inspire people to take steps and stay involved because they want to. Making positive decisions is tied to people’s motivations and behavior. Panelists see certain approaches as key:
“While at the end, we know that the ‘what is in it for me’ is better financial well-being—and hopefully less stress and overall well-being—in order to continue to improve and to continue to see some results and have those repeat users, it’s important for folks to think about incentivizing and to think about recognition as well,” shared Lauren Olson. “Recognition means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. That might mean getting an award in front of the entire company or an email to your boss saying that this person did a good job.”
How do we get employees excited about making good financial decisions?
Getting people to care about their financial well-being is tied to getting them excited about the end result: what it looks like to them. They need to see where they are now and where they’re headed. “. . . The reason it’s hard for people is that it requires some short-term pain for a long-term goal. All of us struggle with that; it’s just something about human nature,” added Steve Blume.
The key is building peoples’ belief in where they’re headed and keeping them confident they will get there. Confidence can be bolstered by celebrating small wins along the way. And finally, it’s essential to offer the tools in a way that appeals to people: modern, technology-tied and fun.
How can RedBrick help?
Eric Zimmerman explained that at RedBrick Health we approach financial well-being from a specific angle: engagement and behavior change. We offer purposeful Journeys that aim at specific problems tied to financial well-being. And while they’re early returns, our own research suggests that this type of behavior intervention can work when you get people focused on doing the right things, in the right ways, with the right level of support. Eric explained that RedBrick Health is seeing 80 to 90% of participants self-reporting that they’re making progress toward their financial well-being goals, and nearly half are reporting that they’re meeting their goals. In addition to Journeys, RedBrick offers coaching by experts who have been trained to apply behavior-change methods to helping people improve their financial well-being.
To learn more about how RedBrick Health can help you add financial well-being into your well-being program, email us at email@example.com or call us at 855-776-5515.
See part 1 here.
January 25th, 2017
Part 1 of a 2-part series
The holidays have come and gone, and many of your employees are now facing the reality of just how much the budget has been blown.
When employees are stressed about money, they aren’t able to work as well, and that affects not only their productivity and job satisfaction, but your company’s
overall performance. That’s why financial well-being is an important part of a broader
employee engagement strategy.
RedBrick Health recently sponsored an expert panel webinar, Financial Well-Being: What It Is and Why It Matters, with:
Moderated by Eric Zimmerman, Chief Marketing Officer, RedBrick Health, the panelists offered their insights into financial well-being, and how companies can be involved in helping employees reduce financial stress. Here are some highlights from the panelists’ discussion:
How are financial well-being and overall health connected? And to what extent are employers changing the way they think about their role as it relates to financial well-being?
The panel agreed that financial stress, as large a topic as it is, is a key component in overall health and well-being. “If overall health and wellness is the concern, then one of the three big rocks for all of us, as humans and employees, is our financial well-being. Financial well-being, physical well-being and mental well-being; it’s very hard to separate those three things, particularly as financial stress becomes chronic,” stated Steve Blume. Chronic financial stress can go hand in hand with physical problems and time away from work. Employers who understand this are striving to offer employees tools and resources to help them move forward in this part of their life. One way to do this is by breaking challenges down into steps as part of a larger action plan, like training for a marathon. Another is recognizing that small, everyday life decisions can add up to big, measureable or steady progress toward financial well-being.
Are personal financial habits similar to or different from other health habits such as nutrition, exercise or sleep?
“This is a habit conversation as much as it is anything,” shared Ryan Geyer. “One of the things that both saving for retirement and overall physical wellness have in common is that they are both massive ideas that are very hard to touch and grasp. What you can do with both of them is tie them to daily micro-moment decisions.” The panel agreed that the challenge is in getting people to take positive steps, one at a time. There are biases in financial decision-making, and understanding those biases—as well as increasing people’s motivation—is an important part of the process. It’s not enough that people know what they should do; there’s a behavioral dimension that must be considered as well.
What is the emerging field of behavior finance, and how is it being used to help people make better decisions in their financial life?
Behavior finance is where economics and psychology meet. As companies try to help people take positive steps to move in the direction they want to go, they are trying to understand the underlying biases in people’s decision-making. The panelists agreed that in order to help people take positive steps, they need to
In part 2 of our series, we’ll take you through a few more of the webinar highlights including getting and keeping people involved in taking steps toward positive financial decisions and how to get them excited.
To learn more about how RedBrick Health can help you add financial well-being into your well-being program, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 855-776-5515.
Find part 2 here.
August 18th, 2016
It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since RedBrick Health was founded, with a singular vision: To help people be healthy.
Here, RedBrick founder Kurt Cegielski shares how the company got started, and the innovations, teamwork and unwavering focus that have brought the company into its tenth year.
First of all, congratulations on ten successful years. Tell us about how everything got started.
RedBrick Health was founded by a group of early Consumer-Driven Health Plan pioneers, which means we’ve been consumer-driven since the start. It was the early days of consumer-driven healthcare, and we were intent on helping consumers be more efficient shoppers with their healthcare spending. But over time we realized that there was a greater and more important need: to help people be healthy in the first place. And no one was doing a good job effectively addressing that.
So the idea behind RedBrick was to help people be healthy their entire lives. This mission was a continuation of the consumer-centric work we’d already started in prior companies, but with a broader and more profound impact, and a focus on the special role of the employer-employee relationship. And because most of us had already spent time in smaller companies, we understood how a small group of committed people working together can drive important changes.
The industry has changed a lot in the past ten years; what are the biggest shifts you’ve seen, and how has RedBrick evolved to meet them?
Yes, it has. Back then, “wellness,” though not a new idea, was fairly uninspiring at the consumer experience level. And it was often disconnected from the larger discussion around the transformation of benefits. Now, the value of wellness/well-being as a more strategic element within employee benefits is better established, and we have far better tools to make programs successful. It has been very exciting to be part of that evolution, and to have pioneered innovations that have helped so many consumers in their health journeys.
And although many things have changed in the past ten years, I think the one thing that has been constant is the consumer focus. Consumers want choice, they want ease and convenience, and—most of all—they want results. So everything we’ve developed—and continue to develop—is based on creating efficient and effective consumer experiences. For example, recent research we conducted has helped us pinpoint exactly what works in our clients’ best-performing programs, and we use that insight to create better experiences across our entire business.
That includes things like bringing everything together into one integrated platform, so that consumers have one place for all their well-being resources. It includes seamlessly blending human and digital interactions, because—as important as phones and mobile tools are—sometimes you need to talk with a person, too. And it includes continually studying and researching what works for our consumers to provide the best practices, tools and interactions that actually drive meaningful results.
Our focus on consumer research also gives us a very unique and valuable capability—to monitor what is not working. And if we ever find something that can be better, we definitely aren’t afraid to completely reinvent it. One recent example: the old-fashioned coaching tools and techniques. They just aren’t relevant or effective for a modern consumer. So we blew them up and have a new, high-value model that again, drives meaningful results.
We have invested heavily in data and analytics, especially over the past two years. Our clients need meaningful insights to demonstrate the value of their well-being initiatives. As we’ve seen the shift from ROI to VOI, we’ve expanded our capabilities to provide detailed metrics and analysis so again, our clients can continually expand and optimize their programs.
Over the past ten years, what factors have had the biggest impact in contributing to the company’s growth and success?
I can say without hesitation that our people are the most important factor in our success. We have incredible teams, collaboration and a “do whatever it takes” commitment to our clients and our consumers.
As we discussed in the last question, we also have that core willingness and ability to grow and change and evolve. And as we’ve grown, we’ve maintained that flexibility and sensitivity to adapt to what our consumers and markets need.
Finally, I think one of the biggest factors—and this relates again to our strong people—is truly understanding what works. We understand behavior design and we understand user experience—deeply understand them. Our commitment to book-of-business research—and I’m talking millions of consumers—is uncommon in our industry. And we continually invest in it, so that when we say we know what works, we really do know what works.
So what’s ahead? What are the most exciting things on your radar?
I’m really excited about how the notion of well-being continues to evolve and expand to include so many other factors that help consumers on their journey, such as financial well-being, specialty solutions to address higher acuity needs, and all the ways we can help clients achieve a stronger culture of health. Broad consumer choice positively impacts employee engagement, and ultimately helps us to address our clients’ healthcare and productivity costs.
I’m excited about how we can continue to help our consumers by blending human and digital experiences in meaningful ways. I know that our ability to offer choice to our consumers without limiting them will continue to drive the results we all strive for.
And finally, just as when we started ten years ago, I’m excited about continuing to learn, grow, and build a successful company with fantastic people, teams and clients.
August 10th, 2016
By Ksenia Arie, Product Manager, RedBrick Health
When it comes to incentive plan design, we all want the same thing: help individuals be healthier, happier and more productive. At RedBrick Health, we see program participation increase when the design is easy to follow for individuals using choice architecture and providing enough options that are relevant to their personal interests and goals. If individuals feel that they are being forced into one modality with no choice, they feel put off by the program and do not participate.
We have also found that in a choice model, various intervention modalities are similarly effective at producing clinically meaningful change. For example, our data show that consumers’ health metrics improve regardless of whether they use digital coaching, activity tracking or phone coaching.
Outcome-based rewards have been around for a long time; however, their popularity has risen significantly over the past several years as employers have begun shifting more financial accountability to consumers. After all, it seems intuitive: directly reward the health improvement you want to see in your population. But there may be an adverse effect: our research found that participation-based rewards worked equally well in producing biometric outcomes and we found evidence that outcome-based reward designs may depress participation, especially among those at elevated risk.
To avoid costly design mistakes, it is important to take a step back and make sure that your reward design is aligned with real evidence about what works, and that it doesn’t inadvertently create the wrong experience for your participants. Our What the Best Do Better approach provides emerging evidence-based advice on what combination of configurable features can help lead to your designed outcome.
Through data research and analysis, we increasingly know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to health and well-being program and reward design. We welcome learning from you too. What observations do you have on the relationship between reward design and program results?
By Kristie Nelson-Neuhaus, Marketing Communications Account Manager, RedBrick Health
Do you have a ‘set it and forget it’ communication approach with your audience? If so, you might be settling—unnecessarily—for a lower level of health engagement.
Communication practices are a key driver in engaging individuals with their health. In this post, we’re going to focus on three ways in which top-performing companies capture attention and sustain engagement through their communications—so let’s take a look at how each plays out.
Email. Why does email make such a difference to your engagement strategy? Our research found that people who are reachable by email show 92% more engagement. Individuals interact immediately with email messages, clicking through to complete an action, such as a health assessment or activity tracking.
When you’re designing your email communications, remember two simple tips:
Communication cadence. Establishing a consistent cadence not only helps your audience understand the basics of your program, but also builds familiarity with your well-being brand through content, images and design.
Top performing companies communicate an average of 12 times per year. This may seem like a lot, especially in companies where employees feel like they’re flooded with messages. Three tips will help you navigate this issue.
And finally, mix it up. We recommend mixing the types of messages as well as the delivery methods to promote sustained engagement and support your well-being strategy.
In conclusion, take heart. You know your audience. You don’t have to do everything perfectly—use your strengths in one area to overcome weaknesses in others. Be authentic, be consistent, be clear. If you practice these principles, you will see results.
June 20th, 2016
By Phil Hadden, vice president of business development, RedBrick Health
Cost, access to providers and convenience are major drivers for employers and consumers when selecting a health plan. You might have these questions in mind:
If you are limiting your wellness efforts to just hosting wellness-related content on your site, you may want to re-think that strategy. Based on the Pew Internet Project’s research in 2014, 87% of U.S. adults use the internet and 72% of internet users say they they’ve looked online for health information in the past year. 77% of those online health seekers used search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. So there’s a good chance that your members are not logging into your site to find health-related information.
Consumers have the desire and the interest to improve their health and well-being. A Gallop poll in 2013 found that 36% of adults describe themselves as overweight and 51% of adults said they want to lose weight. A report from Canalys (an independent analyst group that follows the tech industry) reported that in the first quarter of 2014 a total of 2.7 million activity tracking wearable devices were shipped worldwide.
Providing a solution that supports your members in their journey to better health gives you the opportunity to take advantage of this heightened interest in personal health. Achieving meaningful health engagement requires a solution that incorporates proven principles of behavioral science, a highly personalized engagement experience and the triggers that can keep members engaged and help them adopt healthier habits. Each member’s path to better health will be different and so you’ll need to incorporate the power of choice to ensure they are committed to their goals. A flexible solution with options for web, mobile, device integration and onsite services is also key. Improve your well-being solution with personalized, easy to follow small steps to better health, fun to use tools, expert support, rewards and all the encouragement they need to reach their well-being goals.
Our data driven strategies are proven to help your plan achieve market-leading engagement. To truly make your solution stand out you’ll need a multi-modal communications campaign, research backed strategies and proven incentive designs. RedBrick Health can help you keep your members meaningfully engaged over time and achieve a successful culture of health.
Contact us to find out how we can help you deliver a compelling and truly differentiated approach to member well-being for your brand.
 Pew Research Center. Health Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/health-fact-sheet/
 Brown, A. (November 29, 2013). American’s Desire to Shed Pounds Outweighs Effort. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/166082/americans-desire-shed-pounds-outweighs-effort.aspx
 Canalys. Fitbit accounted for nearly half of global wearable band shipments in Q1 2014. Retrieved from http://www.canalys.com/newsroom/fitbit-accounted-nearly-half-global-wearable-band-shipments-q1-2014
May 31st, 2016
By Eric Zimmerman, Chief Marketing Officer, RedBrick Health
Commitment to any health improvement is amplified when that commitment happens through an active choice. The principle of “choice architecture” suggests that the combination of guidance and choice works best. In other words, when people have the power to choose how and when they want to engage—as well as the focus on that engagement—the result is stronger engagement and better results.
Data help, too. You can use data to offer consumers the most relevant options, emphasizing things that work for “people like me.” But it’s choice that seems to matter most.
In fact, among those with significant health risks—prediabetics, those with a BMI over 30, individuals with elevated cardiovascular risk factors—our research found that it didn’t matter how a person engaged, as long as they engaged. For example, some chose to work in a digital coaching format we call RedBrick Journeys®. Others worked with a “live person”—a well-being guide who offers coaching, guidance and support. Some chose to track their physical activity using a wearable device. All participants improved their health in clinically meaningful ways, at surprisingly comparable rates.
Sometimes we think we know what’s best for people. For example, the conventional wisdom says people with chronic conditions need to be enrolled in a disease management program. However, our data show that—given the choice—80% of those with a chronic condition choose to work on a “lifestyle” topic. And by letting them do so, we have engaged substantially more individuals than wellness companies that fail to offer choice.
As it turns out, choice matters. It intensifies commitment and engagement. And it works.
This post is part of the blog series of What the Best Do Better, our most recent study on health engagement. Stay tuned and you’ll gain knowledge on what top-performing organizations are doing differently through successful program design patterns.
Find our first post in the series “What drives meaningful engagement? We set out to find out” here.