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The 7 Personas That Can Destroy Your Wellness Program - eBook Transcript

You Need a Wellness Program That Works For You, Without Hidden Costs, Errors and Effort.

Your leadership expects an employee wellness program that delivers results. But they haven't given you the tools you need to run great programs and connect the dots to show results. In some cases, they're objecting to the very strategies that are most likely to deliver improved health and reduced costs. Check out these tips for dealing with the 7 Personas that are standing in the way as you create an effective employee health program.

Who Are the 7 Personas?

If you're like most wellness leaders, you face an annual planning and approval process for your wellness program design and budget. You need approval from your boss - and you must answer objections from a whole host of players within Human Resources, Benefits, Finance, and Operations.
And that's when you meet the 7 Personas:

  1. The Free Lunch
  2. Chicken Little
  3. Just Write a Check
  4. Next Year
  5. The Cheater
  6. Mr. Magoo
  7. Paper Process

#1: The Free Lunch

“Do whatever you want with your wellness program - as long as it's free.” They're defending the company budget - and they don't really think you can deliver results and savings. To neutralize the Free Lunch, you need to make the invisible costs visible - and show real results. Keep track of the time you spend on administrative tasks that could be automated -and put a dollar value on it. Keep track of the hidden costs where you have to cobble together the “free” programs and data sets. And most importantly, have the data in one place to show results - connecting the dots to prove that your programs are improving biometrics and reducing health risks across the population, from year to year.

#2 Chicken Little

Sees your program as a legal and compliance risk - the better your program, the more they think the sky is falling. Effective programs use outcome-based incentives for improved biometrics - and bring out the worst in Chicken Little. To neutralize Chicken Little, you need a way to handle and store health data securely - not on your laptop using Excel. And you need to explain how your program design meets the requirements of HIPAA and the Affordable Care Act. We Recommend: Use an online wellness platform that has legal compliance and information security built-in.

#3 Just Write a Check

Wants healthy employees - but doesn't want to make health a priority in the organization. Just wants to write a check. You know your program won't succeed if you just have an outside wellness vendor pushing uphill against the culture. To neutralize this persona, you need to change the culture with a wellness program that's visible, social and team-oriented. A program that offers executives and volunteers the chance to lead by example. A program that generates heartfelt, personal success stories. Not just another Health Assessment and Screening.

#4 Next Year

Thinks your big program ideas can wait until next year. The grass is always greener - next year. To neutralize: Show how much health costs will increase if nothing changes. Then, present a 3-year plan to grow your wellness program and budget. In most cases, you're moving from a participation-based program, to a program with biometrics and outcome-based incentives. We recommend: a platform for running programs and managing data that can grow with you from where you are - to where you want to go.

#5 The Cheater

A little obsessed with the ways employees can cheat to earn health incentives. Wants all datapoints to be validated - but there will never be enough money to buy uploading pedometers and blood pressure cuffs for every employee or have an onsite screening every month. To neutralize this persona, you need lots of ways to get validated data into your program. You need to be able to upload results from an onsite screening - and let the employees who did the screening with their doctor upload their own results. You need to accept device data for activity and weight - and have free apps to gather validated data for employees who don't have consumer health devices.

#6 Mr. Magoo

Mr. Magoo is focused on the small group of employees who are costing the most this year. Those employees are likely to get better next year….. with or without your program. It's the other 95% who are going to drive your health costs next year, and the year after that. To neutralize Mr. Magoo, you need to track leading indicators like health risks - not just lagging indicators like claims data. You need to show the right people are joining your programs, and that they continue to live healthy after the program is over. You also need big participation and effective programs to reduce health risks across the vast majority of your population. Then you'll be able to show results that convince even the most nearsighted Mr. Magoo.

#7: Paper Process

Can't imagine a wellness program that doesn't come with a paper version. Willing to take out everything social, mobile and engaging in your program to make sure it can still be done on paper. To neutralize the Paper Process, you need to give participants a whole range of non-paper ways to access the program. You need mobile Apps that reach the 70%+ of working adults with a smartphone. You need a website that is accessible from work, from home, or from the local library. You may even want to set up a few low-cost iPad kiosks at the worksite with an easy touchscreen App for the wellness program.


Your mission is to build a an employee health program that delivers results. There are 7 Personas who are standing in the way when you ask for the program structure and budget you need. You can design your program to meet their objections - and a good technology platform can help. Make sure your program can deliver validated data all year long, is accessible to all employees, is able to grow along with your 3-year plan, has practical ways to change the culture, and has information security and legal compliance built-in. And remember- the long term solution is strong results. A big enough “pro” can outweigh all the “cons” and silence the naysayers.

About the Author

Jesse Hercules is the President of Extracon Science, a leading health promotion company using technology to help our clients build more effective wellness programs. He's led the team at Extracon since 2007. Mr. Hercules is a frequent speaker and writer on health promotion topics, including speaking at the American Journal of Health Promotion's annual conference, and the the American Heart Association's annual Worksite Wellness Conference. He has also served on the HERO Think Tank for the Health Enhancement Research Organization, and presented several webinars offered through WELCOA to its members.

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