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Support the 4 pillars of wellbeing

Learn how a large global employer worked with Optum over the past 10 years to expand its wellbeing programme and improve employee outcomes.

By Rayson Ng, Senior Strategic Development Manager, Optum International | 17 May 2023 | 4-minute read


How a large employer improved employee outcomes

Now more than ever, global employers focus on supporting their employees’ mental health. But that isn’t the only aspect of wellness that matters.

A well-rounded programme supports every facet of an employee’s wellbeing. We partner with multinational teams and employer groups to create programmes using the Optum holistic service approach. Together, we improve outcomes in these 4 pillars:

  • Mental and emotional wellbeing 
  • Physical wellbeing 
  • Social wellbeing
  • Financial wellbeing

Learn how a large multinational worked with Optum over the past 10 years. Together we expanded their wellbeing programme to address all 4 pillars of employee wellbeing — and saw improved employee outcomes.

The problem: Addressing only one pillar of wellbeing 

The employer invested strongly in its employees’ mental and emotional wellbeing — but this came at the cost of neglecting the other 3 pillars of wellness. Through a collaborative client discovery session, we determined that the company needed to address the 3 other facets impacting their employees’ wellbeing: physical, social and financial.

The client aimed to increase employee use of their programmes and reduce overall wellbeing costs per individual. They also wanted to attract and retain talent within their ranks. In order to reach these talent objectives, they determined they needed to add a new stream of benefits.

The strategy: Creating a holistic wellbeing programme

Working with the leaders in compensation, benefits and wellbeing, we created a plan for benefits that supported all 4 wellbeing pillars and created a culture of health. We first compared their current state to their desired health outcomes. We then identified gaps in their current versus desired outcomes. Finally, we worked with them to design a wellbeing programme by sharing what had and hadn’t worked in similar regions.

The team at Optum also helped drive employee adoption through communications, ongoing training support and customised campaigns.

The implementation: A phased approach

We adopted a phased approach to implement the new services as part of our strategy to help the bank deploy these new solutions. With the mental and emotional wellbeing services already achieving strong use levels and delivering the desired outcomes, we first prioritised services for physical wellness.

In 2013, we began the Health Risk Assessment (HRA) as a simple diagnostic tool to pinpoint potential physical health “hotspots” to address. We deployed the assessment across 14 countries in the Asia Pacific region, and Optum identified country-specific health concerns. Based on the data, we recommended targeted interventions for the top issues in each region.

Optum then worked closely with the overall regional wellness lead and respective country wellness council. Solutions ranged from proactive education sessions on specific health topics to one-on-one consultations to drive positive behaviour change.

Through this implementation process, Optum and the employer created a more proactive approach to recognise physical employee health issues. In addition, it laid the groundwork for employees to start taking ownership of their health and take the first steps towards creating a culture of health within the organisation.

The client’s services with Optum have since evolved to include: onsite employee assistance programme services; workplace wellbeing services, including ergonomic consultants and health promotion specialists; financial consultations and online support; and a customised annual health fair for all employees based in the Asia Pacific region. In addition, Optum now helps the client create wellbeing outcomes in both the social and financial wellbeing spheres. 

Seeing results amidst employee growth

The employer has seen significant success through increases in programme use. In 2012, the programme started with approximately 450 participants annually, limited to emotional wellbeing support. Eleven years later, as part of a wider total wellbeing programme that includes emotional wellbeing, wellness initiatives and workplace wellbeing, more than 48,000 employees participate annually.

Critical success factors

I believe that the following critical factors helped create these successful outcomes with the employer:

  • Year-round support: Accessing a budget for a year-long programme sets employers apart from those who settle for one-off events or services. A massage event twice a year will not produce the same positive outcomes as an ongoing service designed to support employees year-round.
  • Dedicated resources: We often see the compensation and benefits manager taking on the whole wellbeing programme at some companies. However, this employer also committed a regional wellness lead, in-country human resources leads, and wellness councils (ranging from 2 to 10 members apiece) to ensure their success.
  • A single partner with holistic offerings: When looking for a wellbeing partner, consider if they can provide you with “one-stop” access to resources on the specific health and wellness outcomes you are trying to achieve. 
  • Relevant global data: Optum has access to an extensive global and regional database of diverse solutions and delivery partners that enabled us to tailor solutions to the needs of each region. 
  • Wellbeing and industry expertise: Drawing from our experience with many multinational companies, Optum provided local knowledge and insight to help jump-start their forays into physical, social and financial wellbeing.
  • Operational support: Optum provided timely operational support through our executive sponsors, global account management for each region where the client operated, global customer relations support and regular customer survey data to ensure quality standards. 
  • Long-lasting solutions: Every company goes through change. Enduring solutions from Optum are built to last and show results, even during leadership turnover and organisational change. And they are scalable to ramp up or down as budgets fluctuate. 
  • Consistent and continuous messaging: Optum offers communication solutions designed to tell members what the programme is about and how it can help them. Education and health events in a social and fun environment can translate into success. 

Creating a custom approach for each company

Each company is unique. At Optum, we bring our big-picture perspective and apply those learnings to each company. We have insights across industries and can connect the dots on peer data. But most importantly, we will use our expertise to create a custom approach for each company’s culture, goals and employee needs — all to achieve their desired outcomes.

Contact us to learn more about creating a holistic wellbeing programme for your employees.


The information provided in this blog post reflects the personal views of the author. The blog post contains general health information and is not a substitute for a doctor’s care.


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