Target uses the Web to target employees' health

By Diana Manos
11:05 AM

Target’s employee well-being program, which includes a website for employees, has proven to boost sales in the two years since it was launched, according to Dawne Carlson, director of Organizational Effectiveness, Target Corporation.

Carlson provided examples of how Target’s program has been successful at the Seventeenth Annual National Business Coalition on Health held Nov. 12-14 in Washington, DC.

Target rolled out a well-being movement to its some 365,000 employees in 2010.

“We wanted to create a culture of well-being. This meant we wanted to launch something bigger than a campaign; we launched a movement,” said Carlson. Part of the movement included an avid advertising campaign – “gorilla marketing,” according to Carlson. Since Target self-insures, some employees were made aware for the first time that they “own” their healthcare, in a sense. They were encouraged to take part in their own healthcare, to help cut costs for the whole company. “Since our insurance money is co-oped money (combined from employee premiums and company funding), we’re all trying to wisely spend our money,” she explained. 

This awareness made a big difference at insurance enrollment time, when employees had several options to choose from. Instead of blindly signing up for a choice, they were more thoughtful than ever before, having been made aware of the grand scheme and the role they play in their own healthcare. Supervisors were asked, for the first time, to help educate employees on their choices. As a result, 90 percent of employees became actively involved in their enrollment, up from 40 percent the year before, Carlson said.

The “Target Best Health” website was launched to give employees a place to learn more about how to maintain their well-being and how to choose the right health insurance option. The well-being movement included focusing on health as a cornerstone, Carlson said. But it also included the aspects of healthy relationships; career optimization; financial health and the ability to serve one’s community.

[See also: Walmart to use SoloHealth's digital pharmacy ad platform.]

The entire concept was driven from the top down, with 2,000 well-being “captains nominated and appointed within each store. The well-being captains weren’t paid in money; they were paid with the prestige and excitement they found in the position, setting up after-work hours sports games, weight loss competitions and other locally specific health and well-being activities. The emphasis was on “low cost, high touch,” Carlson said, things that could impact employees and their families on a daily basis.

The result was a jump in sales and an increase in employee retention, “as team members came to believe that their healthcare matters to Target,” Carlson said.