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H.Engage Shares 4 Steps for Applying Lean Start-Up Approach to Wellness Initiatives


Boston, MA – Debate about wellness program effectiveness continues to rage, with many questioning the validity of statistics referenced by vendors. Vlad Gyster suggests Gartner’s “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies” may be useful in bringing clarity to the debate, and provides a means for employers to avoid its grip.  Vlad is Cofounder and CEO of H.Engage, a SaaS platform that helps employers to harness the power of mobile devices and gamification to drive employee engagement in HR benefits, programs and communications.
“Looking at the debate through the lens of Gartner’s Hype Cycle—defined as the over-enthusiasm or ‘hype’ and subsequent disappointment that typically occurs with the introduction of new technologies—we can see that wellness programs have passed the Peak of Inflated Expectations and are now in the Trough of Disillusionment—which is typically characterized by criticism of previously-accepted assumptions and overall value,” stated Vlad.
“Traditional approaches to launching wellness initiatives come with huge overhead costs—strategy, vendor selection, and implementation and vendor fees can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars—and can take years before having any real impact on even a single employee.  With the data underlying the value to be gained for these large investments now in dispute, it’s easy to understand the level of disillusionment.  And it’s important to remember that for most companies, employee well-being is a priority because it positively influences productivity and engagement, and reduces absenteeism and presenteeism—and is not just a means of reducing medical claims costs,” Vlad continued.

Vlad suggests employers can avoid the pitfalls of the wellness program Hype Cycle, save money and achieve faster results by using a Lean Startup approach. The Lean Startup approach, originated by Eric Ries for high-tech companies, advocates for starting any initiative using small, inexpensive steps that lead to quick wins and continuous improvement.
Step 1: Think in terms of “Minimum Viable Product”
A Minimum Viable Product is defined as the smallest thing you can do to learn how to make progress toward your objective. For most employers, the objective of their wellness program will be somehow tied to employee participation. According to Vlad, “Instead of investing time and money building business cases and other costly activities, pick something to do that is small and will help you learn what works to gain employee participation.”
Step 2: Build something that’s “good enough”
A. Start with something easy like an employee video testimonial about a benefit that’s already available (but probably under-appreciated), like gym reimbursement. Use a Smartphone to capture an authentic (versus produced) quality. Be sure to hold the phone sideways so the video can be seen full screen and keep it to 30 seconds or less. 
B. Upload your video to a video hosting tool for businesses—e.g., Wistia—so you can track how many people click the link and view your video.  Be sure to test the link on someone else’s computer before you share it.
C. Send an email to employees inviting them to watch the video. Explain that this is a “beta” and you’re testing concepts for a potential wellness initiative. Distribute to a small group first to ensure everything is working.
Step 3: Measure
Measuring is key; without it you can’t test your assumption or learn from it. Once the email is sent, you’ll know how many people clicked the link, and how many people viewed the video and for how long. These key performance indicators—KPIs—will help provide a baseline for reporting progress and future improvements.
Step 4: Learn
Use the captured metrics to assess your results. For example, “We sent the video to 1,000 people, 200 people clicked the link and we had 170 video views. Of those that viewed the video, 80% watched it all the way through.”
“These are the types of tangible outcomes that propel a wellness initiative forward. Now rinse, and repeat! What can you do next to increase those numbers? The faster you can repeat this process and improve your KPIs, the more momentum you’ll gain,” Vlad concluded.

About H.Engage
Founded in early 2011, H.Engage helps employers drive measurable engagement in HR benefits, programs and communications using targeted mobile messages, game mechanics and peer-to-peer influence. The platform can be used to create new initiatives or layered over existing initiatives to increase participation. Real-time analytics enable employers to track participation and measure ROI. Additional information about H.Engage may be found at


 wellness initiatives
 employee benefits
 employee engagement

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