Saving Employers and Employees Money

What’s an easy way to encourage employees to take steps to be healthy? Incentivize them with money. That’s exactly what Fidelity Investments does for its employees. A few years after the firm prohibited smoking on its campuses and made resources available to help employees quit, Fidelity introduced this new benefit on top of a fixed annual reimbursement on fitness-related expenses. Exercise, complete a health screening, work with a health coach, or complete an app-based activity that encourages healthy eating and you can points towards a quarterly health incentive credit to reduce medical plan contributions. Challenge accepted.

To explain why Fidelity and other companies would offer this to employees is simple; it’s a win-win. The thought here is if employees are taking steps to be healthy through exercise, eating and routine check-ups, it will result in health care claims savings paid by employers to health care companies. Productivity also increases as employees taking steps to remain healthy will be taking less time off due to illness and health-related surgeries. Offering a service as such shows the company’s commitment to the well-being of its employees.

How does Fidelity track all of these variables to reduce their employees’ medical plan costs? They don’t actually do anything; they work with a third party, RedBrick Health. RedBrick Health created a personalized platform based on Fidelity’s existing benefits to provide employees an engaging way to work on their well-being. Whether an employee wants to have more energy, lower stress, or find more relaxation time, RedBrick delivers tools and resources to incorporate healthy habits and track those healthy habits employee’s already partake in. This fully digitized business encompasses all of these elements in an intuitive application, but for those folks who don’t use apps the same can be accomplished through their website.

There’s no need for companies to mail literature to their employees on being healthy; they can work with RedBrick to include this in their app. At Fidelity’s annual health fair employees receive complimentary flu shots along with BMI, glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure measurements which are fed directly into RedBrick’s platform. Healthy measurements are rewarded with quarterly credits; which is pretty easy for those that are able to stay fit. For those who need improvements in their measurements, the app provides countless solutions.

You can engage with professional coaches live online who will consult on topics such as stress relief, eating right, or talking you through specific exercises to reach personal goals. This is a little different from the traditional view of social media but there is a plethora of content shared from coaches to individuals looking to improve their well-being. A coworker of mine worked with a professional coach to develop a cardio and dietary plan to train for a half marathon; word of mouth spread and members of his team began to work with coaches to satisfy their own needs. The funny thing is, one year later, this coworker continues to work and network with his professional coach. Individuals who prefer to take trainings can participate in dozens of journeys. Journeys for healthy eating, seen below, include tips and tricks for different food categories along with shopping lists, recipes, and questionnaires to engage clients. All of this is available on the app and questions can be submitted to coaches with responses in no time!

For those who like to be incentivized through exercise, they can sync with the Apple Health application to record steps, biking, sleep, glucose and blood pressure or use any other devices such as Fitbit, Garmin, RunKeeper and more. Personally, I have my Fitbit linked to my RedBrick app and as long as I sync my Fitbit every few days, the exercise activity will link to RedBrick automatically…it’s that easy. It’s rewarding to exercise, stay fit and save money while doing so!

So what are some of the next steps to further improve this digital business? One area I would suggest improvement is somehow attracting users that are extremely active to use the application. Since I receive my quarterly points via exercising, I technically never even need to open the app on my phone. The app already tally’s your quarterly points via exercise or other activities; even though there is a maximum number of points one can earn, there should be a way to challenge fellow coworkers to see who can obtain the highest number of points. In my opinion, this would further push employees to stay active, while connecting with coworkers on the app to discuss exercises, healthy meals, and other best practices to live a healthy lifestyle.

A simple leader dashboard that contains other health related content on the side could draw clicks to other content on the app. More activity on the app will only make RedBrick more attractive to potential clients down the road. The app could even create corporate challenges across businesses for organizations to see how they stack up against one another in terms of active and healthy lifestyles. Healthy eating reminders and meeting reminders with professional coaches should be added to the application to further use and social networking. All in all, this digitized technology has created a successful platform to engage employees and employers in healthy lifestyles.

What other ways can RedBrick expand their platform? Would leveraging existing social media platforms help? Which ones?

**By clicking on the RedBrick link here or above, you will see a announcement of a merger which occurred in May of 2018. RedBrick has yet to see the benefits of said merger from a technology standpoint, so I intentionally left merger details out of this blog.

5 comments

  1. We have a similar application at my company that we are leveraging. It awesome to see employees digitizing the benefit applications. Sometimes I think it best that employers making the best choice possible by using companies Redbrick instead of trying to create their own health and wellness incentives.

    One of the newest pushes in the help and well-being application that my company has been pushing building resiliency which translate not only into positive physical health but has even promoted a positive work environment.

  2. I think the concept of Redbrick as a whole definitely seems like a win-win, saving employers money, while incentivizing employees to be healthy, miss less days, and be productive. However, I also am curious to see how those less active of us and our colleagues would feel about adding a competitive aspect to the app, being added to a leaderboard. I find that some people I know aren’t active because they choose not to be and would rather spend their time on other activities with friends. Although I agree the Redbrick app definitely has a major upside for both employee and employer, I am curious how in app competition could impact real world working dynamics.

    1. This is true, not all folks would enjoy competition and it could discourage them. However there are ways around this, with an opt-in/opt-out feature so in no way is it mandatory for employees to participate in a leader board, The leader board thought was to attract those active folks that do not need to partake in activities, such as professional coaches or journeys, to bring them to the app and take advantage of the other content RedBrick has to offer.

  3. Interesting that they’re a purely health tech company offering this platform/community. I work at BC and our health provider Harvard Pilgrim has similar incentive online space for BC employees (primarily using fitbit steps assuming via an API). It’s not as high tech as what this platform seems but similar idea. Think this is a great opportunity to provide an interactive and dynamic space to manage your health. What I do wonder is if this platform is limited by the fact that participation is only open to you if it is employer provided instead of a more accessible platform.

  4. When I worked at HP (back in 2011) we were able to opt-in to receive kits to measure our fasting blood glucose (among other stats) in order to reduce our health insurance payments if we met certain metrics. I was a little hesitant at first to give up so much personal health data, but the process was easy (just a finger-prick of blood was required) and I did see it as ‘win-win’ as you stated. I really like that companies have taken this even further with the range of options they offer today. However, do you think that this can end up being a form of discrimination in the future? For example, it’s shown that the lowest-income people typically live in food deserts that have extremely limited healthy food options. This could lead to the lowest-income people having the highest healthcare costs, which seems counterproductive to what these initiatives are trying to achieve.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: