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Drive wellbeing programme utilisation

Strengthen your international wellbeing programme with an integrated health promotion specialist.

By: Jessica Bullett, International Wellness Coordinator and Health Promotion Specialist, Optum International

1 November, 2023 | 3-minute read


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If your company operates in multiple countries, you’re familiar with your employee populations’ distinct challenges. Each geographical area has unique cultures, laws and expectations influencing your wellness programmes. So how can you ensure you offer equitable wellbeing support to all your employees?

Optum health promotion specialists help international organisations by offering global wellbeing expertise and integrating it into their team. They create custom wellness programmes based on international best practices and tailor them to local employees’ needs. When certain benefits aren’t available to international employees, health promotion specialists find creative alternatives, such as education or contests, to support the same wellness topics.

I work with a global financial client that operates in 30 countries. I support its wellness programmes in the APAC and EMEA regions, from strategy to implementation through maintenance. Here are a few ways I have become an extension of their company to improve employee health and wellbeing.

Embed in the culture to offer custom support

Optum health promotion specialists get as embedded and involved as our clients want us to be. I get to know the company culture, so I can effectively communicate with their employees.

In my role, I integrate into many areas of my client’s business, including:

  • Employee resource groups and internal departments: I reach out to internal groups and departments to understand which topics employees want to learn more about. Based on their feedback, I have coordinated events that address health topics including anxiety, menopause and neurodiversity.
  • Internal communications: I collaborate with the client’s communications team and provide wellness content for newsletters so employees know about their wellbeing benefits. Together, we also built a mental health hub so employees can easily find all their resources and services in one place.
  • Town halls and team meetings: Anyone can request that I or a member of my team join their meetings to bring a bit of wellness. Managers use this service often, and we create fun activities to add wellness strategies to their daily routines. For example, I might suggest a brain game, speak on an educational topic or guide the group through a deep breathing exercise. I also highlight wellbeing programmes to increase awareness.
  • Wellness challenges: Health and wellness don’t have to be serious. That’s why we create fun challenges employees can easily join to develop healthier habits, such as drinking more water or taking more steps. Virtual challenges let employees post progress, share photos and encourage one another to keep their momentum going.
  • Wellness champion network: I helped my current client build and foster a network of about 100 wellness champions who promote wellbeing activities and programmes. The client and my team first defined the expectations and role of the wellness champions. Then I provided our champions with a toolkit to educate their coworkers about available wellbeing benefits and support. Beyond that, some champions help us develop programming, such as a healthy global cookbook. They can also organise activities and events in their local areas. The wellness champions’ toolkit includes scripting, marketing materials and a monthly newsletter. We meet quarterly with the champions to discuss upcoming focuses and use a group messaging chat to communicate and organize more regular meetings country by country when needed.

Adapt resources to be culturally and digitally relevant

Beyond the programming, I make sure the education, marketing and communications are internationally relevant. This awareness means translating materials into each local language and using appropriate statistics and examples.

Each country has unique experiences and needs. So I adapt our approach as needed and talk about what’s top-of-mind in their region. For example, if one country is affected by war, the Optum team provides customised support for things like trauma and grief. The language and tone of each programme reflect that context. And our health promotion specialists guide employees to relevant support, training and education.

Virtual capabilities have enabled Optum to reach employees no matter where they work. With virtual networks and groups, more employees can participate and interact with each other. I work with many internal resource groups to run online challenges and programmes and solicit feedback through polls to measure success. These challenges and programmes may be lighthearted, but they can impact small yet important behavioural changes. And we can host virtual talks and webinars to extend our programmes’ reach.

In 2021, I created an interactive webinar covering mental health fundamentals. With interactive polls and breakout sessions, over 640 employees have since attended and learnt how to support their own mental health and talk to others about it. Everything was connected back to the available client’s employee assistance programme (EAP) resources and internal programmes.

Connect employees with the resources they need

International companies are able to leverage health promotion specialists to help drive higher engagement and increase utilisation of programmes like EAP. These dedicated positions meet employees wherever they are in their journey and connect them with relevant EAP services.

An Optum Health Promotion Specialist becomes an extension of your team and serves as an internal resource for your wellbeing programme. A dedicated specialist also shows your employees that you care about their wellbeing.

Contact us to see how a health promotion specialist can improve your employees’ wellbeing.

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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