Practice What You Preach: Spreading Workplace Wellness Through Insurance Firms

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RunnerStress, as many of us know, can be a real monster. Among the havocs that stress can wreak on a body are headaches, depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and heart disease, to name only a few. According to the American Institute of Stress, work is the No. 1 cause of stress for American adults: 80 percent of workers report feeling stress on the job, and 65 percent of workers say that workplace stress has caused difficulties for them.

Jane Wang, CEO of employee health company myHealthSphere, has worked with plenty of people in high-stress jobs. Her company’s employee wellness tool, Dooo, aims to help workers better manage their health and stress on the job. When I last spoke to Wang, she addressed some of the reasons why so many workplace wellness programs fail (see PepsiCo for a high-profile example).

You’ll likely be unsurprised to hear that the situation hasn’t magically changed since Wang and I talked in January: workplace wellness programs still fail often, and American workers are still very stressed. What has changed, however, is that myHealthSphere has found a new channel for spreading Dooo — and it’s a rather important channel, one that could help more companies adopt successful workplace wellness programs.

Insurance Brokers: Practicing What They Preach (Some of Them)

While looking for investors, Wang met with one who owns a tech company and works for an insurance brokerage.

“He came up with the idea of speaking to the brokerage, not only to implement [our wellness program] for his company, but for the brokerage itself and its clients,” Wang says.

The result is a partnership with insurance brokerage firm Morrow, Crossdale & Associates, Inc., (MC&A). The firm uses Dooo itself and pushes the program out to its clients.

A partnership between insurance brokers — the people who help companies arrange health care — and a workplace wellness program provider is an especially valuable one, not only for the parties involved, but also for the state of workplace wellness in general. If companies see their insurance firms using wellness programs that work, they may be more likely to get on board.

“It makes sense — for example, if you have a toothpaste, you can say it’s the toothpaste the dentist is using,” Wang explains.

Such a ringing endorsement is good for Dooo in particular, but it also sets an interesting paradigm for workplace wellness programs going forward. Could partnerships between insurance brokerages and workplace wellness programs be a way to bring successful wellness initiatives to more companies? If the answer is yes, we may be close to finally putting a dent in workplace stress.

As of now, of course, this is all speculation, and we should note that myHealthSphere isn’t the first workplace wellness provider to partner with players in the insurance industry. Still, it will be interesting to see how the partnership between myHealthSphere and MC&A plays out.

So far, things have been going pretty well: Wang reports that MC&A personnel praise Dooo’s pricing and say that the program is easy to share with clients. In a press release, MC&A partner Paul Crossdale said that “myHealthSphere’s approach to corporate wellness is quite forward-thinking and is one that matches our own employee health goals. Dooo is just the natural solution.”

In the meantime, Wang says myHealthSphere has partnered with three more brokerages, for a total of four including MC&A.

I’d say we should keep on eye on this situation: given the tremendous employee-health and fiscal benefits of workplace wellness programs, we should really be looking for ways to bring wellness to as many companies as possible.

By Matthew Kosinski