Engaging the Family

In 2010, MBGH completed a series of focus groups with employees and their spouses in an effort to uncover the aspects of employer-sponsored health and wellness programs that are most and least important to them. Results showed that employees take the role of managing their family’s health very seriously, and highlighted the importance of considering families when seeking to improve the health and wellness of employees

Dependents typically represent half or more of an organization's covered population and medical costs. They also influence the behavior of employees and the environment in which they spend most of their time away from work. Moreover, the spouse or domestic partner might be the one making the family's health care decisions. As a result, organizations need to develop and implement strategies to engage family members and address their unique needs.

Enabling employees and family members to optimize their health and wellness requires well-crafted, targeted communications. These communications need to educate and motivate them to take action and change lifestyle behaviors. To encourage family participation, communications should be distributed to employee’s homes and in the workplace.

    Asking dependents for ideas and suggestions sends a powerful message that they are a valued and an integral part of the organization's process for a healthier workforce.  
Organizations can take a number of actions to engage family members in health and wellness initiatives. Perhaps the most important is to include them in the various health offerings such as health risk assessments and biometric screenings. 

Lifestyle changes including healthy eating, weight control, smoking cessation  and regular physical activity can be accomplished by positively reinforcing the healthy actions of each family member. Education about employer-provided resources, tools and events can help a family plan for the best way to get and stay healthy and even work on making changes together.