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Sun Life banks on rewards to boost employee wellness

By Aurélia Morvan | March 25 2019 11:30AM

Sun Life Financial has teamed up with BestLifeRewarded to offer its group pension plan clients access to a platform that promotes employee wellness in exchange for rewards. The ultimate goal is to reduce direct and indirect costs triggered by risky behaviours. This partnership is part of the insurer’s Plans to Evolve initiative.

Currently in the test phase, the platform will be deployed more broadly in April 2019, Diane Lafontaine, Assistant Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Group pension plans, Quebec, at Sun Life Financial told Insurance Journal.

A personalized plan

To use the platform, employees start by completing a questionnaire on risk assessment in overall health. Their answers can identify their weaknesses and thus define objectives to help them improve their situation. Next, a personalized plan is created and the platform offers actions to take to meet their goals. 

Employees who want to walk more can synchronize their smartwatch or smartphone with the platform, which determines whether the wearers are taking the target number of steps. People who want to feel more relaxed can earn points if they attend a yoga or meditation class. To improve their financial health, participants can earn points if they attend webinars on how to manage their budget or plan their retirement 

Customized rewards

Employees will get points each time they do actions that bring them closer to achieving their personal goals. These points can then be converted into rewards defined by the employer, tailored to the goals and priorities of the business.

Depending on the number of points accumulated, employees can win gift cards or make donations to charitable organizations. People who collect the most points can win contests organized internally by the business. “Some employers even offer to convert points into money that can be paid into the employee’s RRSP or health savings account,” Lafontaine says.

Confidentiality assured

All the personal data are kept confidential. For example if an employee says they drink too much alcohol and want to work on solving this problem, the employer will not find out. Employers will get access to data only on the group of employees as a whole.

“With more global information on employees, employers can put in place actions to support them. If a business notices that 50% of its employees say they want to walk more, it can encourage them to take a walk after lunch break, for example,” Diane Lafontaine adds.

Scientifically proven approach

Founded in 2010, BestLifeRewarded currently supports over 12,000 Canadian organizations and businesses including Alberta Blue Cross, Environment Canada and the University of Victoria. The company thus fosters the wellness of 3 million Canadians.

Sun Life Financial chose to partner with the company because “it’s the only one that took financial health into account, in addition to physical and mental health,” but also because “their approach is based on behavioural science, which is scientifically proven,” Lafontaine explains.

BestLifeRewarded reports that 18.8% of people who used its platform feel less stress, 16.5% eat more fruits and vegetables, 14.6% stopped smoking and 8.15% sleep better. “The results are better and sustainable when they are based on people’s priorities,” Lafontaine says.

Manulife launched a similar initiative in 2018. Through the Vitality platform, the insurer offers its group insurance and individual customers rewards based on wellness activities.

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