Employee Yearning for Normalcy Met by HES Well-Being Programs

4-minute read

Success Relies on Outdoor Activity, Optimism, Mindfulness.

In mid-March it was clear that the world was changing, and we were uncertain how it would affect program launches and participation. After a short-lived slowdown, when managers hit the pause button, the interest from nearly all sectors has been impressive. We’re seeing more momentum today than at any time in our history.

We recently completed an analysis of 160 North America and UK implementations from mid-March to mid-August, the height of the pandemic. Organizations ranged from just under 200 eligible employees to more than 187,000 — corporations, health systems, health plans, educational institutions, and government agencies.

Participant populations among HES clients are highly diverse — from frontline healthcare professionals, to office staff suddenly working from home and sheltered in place to essential manufacturing employees. Participants across all work settings consistently rated programs highest when they emphasized outdoor activity, optimism, and mindfulness, followed by gratitude and connectedness.

Work of Art launch

Introducing a new product is an anxious moment for any business. But rolling out something as groundbreaking as a program to enhance resilience and boost happiness — in the middle of a pandemic — is especially nerve-wracking. We held our breath for the first 6 weeks until participant results started streaming in.

With over 20 organizations and 10,000 participant evaluations completed, it’s clear Work of Art is the right program for the times. Check out an early client experience.

Aggregate Work of Art data highlights include:

  • More than 100,000 emotional well-being activities recorded
  • Highest completion rates among participants with 1 or more friends in the program (70%) and those who shared 1 or more works of art in the online gallery (77%)
  • Statistically significant score increases on the Flourishing Scale, designed to measure perceptions of self-esteem, optimism, purpose, and healthy relationships.

In addition to Work of Art, HES’s suite of campaigns produced similar positive outcomes, particularly those with an emphasis on outdoor activity, including our newest flexible program Coast to Coast and legacy 10K-A-Day. Comparing program results in the same 2018 and 2019 periods demonstrates that overall COVID era participation, engagement, and goal completion can meet or exceed past thresholds.

Across all clients and HES campaign implementations during the 5-month review window, common success factors were:

  • More frequent promotion through multiple channels. Programs that took full advantage of email, social media, wellness champion networks, and in-house communication tools generated the greatest interest regardless of work-from-home limitations.
  • Higher attention to recognition. Fully engaged managers who emphasized milestone achievements throughout campaigns saw less dropout and greater overall satisfaction.
  • Increased emphasis on recruiting friends and teammates. Completion rates improved by 20%-40% when participants connected with friends through buddy features.
  • Ongoing visibility and communication from leaders. Greatest success was seen in organizations where supervisors and top-level managers were active in the program and offered regular encouragement.

Our clients’ experiences suggest that now, more than ever, participants are receptive… even eager to make changes to improve health and quality of life. There’s a pent-up demand for normalcy and desire for taking control — exactly what well-executed well-being programs offer.


Dean WitherspoonDean Witherspoon
Chief collaborator, nudger, tinkerer; leads the most inventive team creating well-being and sustainable living programs. Reach out if you’d like to talk about employee well-being, emotional fitness, or eco-friendly living.

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