An inside look at the University of Texas System’s first year with Limeade
Many organizations interested in implementing an employee well-being program often ask what they can expect in the first year of their program. Is there a learning curve? What results can we expect to achieve in year one? To answer these questions and more, we sat down with Carla Lopez, Manager of Wellness Programs and Brenda Pearson, Employee Benefits Specialist for the University of Texas System (UT System) as they finished their first year partnering with Limeade.
We invited the UT System team to share real experiences from their first program year to better understand why they invested in employee well-being and what were their program successes, challenges and key learnings.
Key Takeaways and Results
The University of Texas System is made up of over 13 institutions with their own culture and traditions. The UT System health and benefits team proudly serves over 250,000 employees, dependents, and retirees. Their population is a diverse group ranging from administrative, custodial, healthcare, research and faculty members.
In 2007, the Living Well program was established within the Office of Employee Benefits and Design. It was designed to support the institution’s well-being efforts at each of the campuses.
UT System partnered with Limeade to enhance their traditional well-being offering to create a sense of belonging across each location with a holistic approach to well-being and driving awareness of benefits and wellness offerings.
UT System has deployed several successful campaigns including team challenges, mindful moments campaigns, and 360 campaigns that cover all dimensions of well-being. Institutions also utilize their own initiatives, campaigns and different communications to provide a personalized experience for employees at each location.
In the first year partnering with Limeade, the University of Texas System achieved:
60% Well-Being Assessment completion
70% increase in registration
82% actively engaged participants
79% increase in monthly active users
4.5/5 User satisfaction
The University of Texas System Interview
Matthew Barresi, Manager of Strategic Accounts at Limeade joined Carla and Brenda to discuss the first year partnering with Limeade to deliver a holistic well-being program to their employees at UT System. We’re thrilled with the success they’ve had in this first year with Limeade and we’re excited to share some of their experiences and what they’ve learned.
1. Tell us about the University of Texas System and the members you’re serving.
The University of Texas System has served the state for nearly 140 years. We strive to improve the lives of Texans and people all over the world through education, health, healthcare and research through our 13 academic and health institutions across the state. Our enrollment accounts for more than 244,000 students and an operating budget of $25.2 billion. We are one of the largest public university systems in the world as well.
We strive to create a healthier Texas and that’s one of our missions through our institutions. Through all the UT-owned and affiliated hospitals and clinics, we accounted for more than 10 million outpatient visits and more than two million hospital days each year. We’re about to open our 6th medical school this year and our research expenditures across the 13 institutions exceed $3.8 billion. We’re ranked number one in Texas and number two in the nation in federal research among public higher education systems.
Our health plan roughly serves 150,000 employees and dependents and about 100,000 retirees. Each institution has their own culture and traditions, which make them unique in their own way. In about
2007, the Living Well program was established within the Office of Employee Benefits and Design. It was designed to support the institution’s well-being efforts at each of the campuses.
2. Can you share what led you to seek out a well-being solution like Limeade and what challenges the University of Texas System was hoping to solve with that solution?
Well, our goal was to offer a platform with more than simply wellness challenges. We entered the process with four main goals.
We wanted to empower members on their well-being journey from a holistic approach
We wanted to centralize communication efforts in one place and provide a one-stop location to increase awareness of benefits and wellness offerings
It was very important to us that the program was conveniently accessible through a mobile app
Most importantly, we wanted to increase the sense of belonging with each institution and the UT Living Well program because of the uniqueness
3. What ultimately made Limeade stand out as the best solution when you were evaluating all your options?
Primarily I would say the reputation and expertise with higher education institutions. We understand that sometimes it can be very unique and can represent a challenge. We wanted the ability to customize content and incentive design for each institution. We also very much appreciated the Well-Being Assessment and the data collection capabilities. We are data-driven and that was very important for us as well.
4. You touched on the Well-Being Assessment and that covers comprehensive well-being for individuals looking at physical, emotional, financial and work well-being. Can you explain why a well-being solution that covers that holistic look at a person was important for you all?
As we’ve mentioned, we are the largest public university system in the state of Texas serving students and patients. For that reason, our employees hold a variety of roles ranging from administrative, custodial, healthcare, research and faculty just to mention some. Therefore, providing holistic well-being offerings is something that we’ve been doing since inception of the well program. For that same reason, we needed a space to centralize all the wonderful wellbeing initiatives offered at the institution and system levels.
Our goals included offering well-being opportunities that support employees, dependents and retirees in coping with their daily challenges and to improve the member state of health and well-being through health literacy and awareness. We want to support members in developing sustainable health habits that they can implement on their own and share with their family members as well. To increase employee engagement, promote work life integration with an emphasis on holistic well-being and lastly, to contribute to employee satisfaction and retention at each of the institutions.
5. A lot of big goals that obviously will help impact the overall well-being of individuals and your organization. So now let’s jump from your goals to partnering with Limeade. Can you share how you have partnered with Limeade to bring the goals of the Living Well program to life?
The Limeade team has been working tremendously to help us adapt and align those goals to our culture and our values. We work with the implementation and customer experience teams to customize the look and feel to each campus by incorporating their institution logo, their colors, branding and custom wellness offerings into the Living Well platform. There were also several conversations Limeade had with each institution and their wellness experts to identify their needs and develop activity and communication strategies.
6. You touched on working with the Limeade implementation team. Tell us more about what that launch process was like getting the Living Well program into Limeade, getting that off the ground and how it was communicated to the populations you were serving across all of these institutions?
We started in the discovery phase by establishing a lead group formed by each institution wellness teams or subject matter experts. They provided feedback for the system wide platform and the institution content. Then we moved on to the data collection phase and that was probably the most time-consuming activity. After that we decided to do sort of a soft launch for the first few months prior to launch. That allowed us to provide the opportunity to our wellness experts to get familiarized with the platform and their capabilities as contributors on the platform.
We also provided a variety of educational resources to raise awareness and facilitate adoption at the member level. Those resources included step-by-step guides, videos, and different types of communications on the platform and outside of the platform through our own social media channels.
7. How are you personalizing the Living Well experience for employees and how does that make it easier for employees to find the benefits and the resources that are relevant to them?
Yes, you know the platform functionality truly simplifies the process to connect with members through many different and engaging ways. Members can find details about all of their benefits and wellness offerings within the app. In addition to that, each institution can customize activities and promote custom content. One of the most successful functionalities is the ability for members to encourage one another through the social channel. They have the ability to spread the word about relevant events happening at the institution or even the community.
8. How has Limeade made the administrative role easier for you, managing the Living Well program, and measuring success?
Well, the whole Limeade team have been great partners to work with and we’re so thankful for the continued support. We’ve had different strategies at the institution and custom levels with institutions. For example, we have hosted regular ongoing meetings to identify areas of opportunity but also their needs and really strategize and address those needs on the platform. That has been truly that one of the main areas and resources that we attribute that the successes that we have accomplished so far.
9. Talking about successes, I love hearing about the custom communications and activities. Can you tell us what some of the big successes around communications and activities in this first year?
We’re very happy to see the numbers growing and see the comprehensive communication strategy implemented. From the very beginning, it’s been successful. So far, we have more than double our registration and participation in the Well-Being Assessment. The results in the Well-Being Assessment indicate that our members have improved scores in 34 of the 37 dimensions of the Well-Being Assessment. Overall, we have over 80% who are on the platform are fully engaged and by engaged that basically means that they have found value in the content provided on the platform.
10. Are there specific campaigns that you’ve seen be successful in this first year?
Absolutely, that’s very important to highlight because this wouldn’t be possible without the hard work at the institution level. We’ve had system wide steps team challenges and we are actually wrapping up our second one and we’re very excited to see the response for that activity. We hosted our UT System- wide Heart Walk earlier this year and that was a little adaptation that we had to do in a virtual environment.
We’ve had mindful moments campaigns, 360 campaigns as well covering all dimensions of well-being. We’ve also had many other successful institution custom initiatives, campaigns and different communications from all and most of our campuses such as UT Southwestern, UT Arlington, UT San Antonio, UT Health, Houston, UT Austin, UT Dallas, UT El Paso, and the Anderson Cancer Center, UT Rio Grande Valley and UT Premium Basin. I did want to mention each one of them and not leave anyone out because we are very proud of everything that they’ve accomplished.
11. They have been wonderful teams to work with and I’m impressed that you could name them all, they all deserve kudos. You shared some of the wins and important campaigns that have gone on. I’m wondering what lessons you have learned or growth areas that you’ve identified in this first year?
I’d like to start with the positive. You know, feedback from employees has been very well received overall, I’d say in terms of challenges, maybe a little bit in terms of familiarization for our members. For that reason, we continue to reinforce with education and resources, but also hearing back from institutions exactly what their members need.
Like we mentioned at the beginning, we have different roles and we serve different populations across the system. Our needs are very different as well and for that reason we need to provide resources that accommodate to all of our needs. Most importantly, we want to continue to offer opportunities for them to learn more about the platform and make it part of their health and wellness journey.
Overall, our members are very pleased with the product, and they know that there are lots of great content on there to explore and activities to engage in either on the browser or via the mobile app. That is shown in the user satisfaction rate, which we have 4.5/5. That’s also a great achievement. So, we continue learning and continue growing with the support of everyone involved in the platform.
12. I love hearing that you’re getting feedback from your users. Also, I know you’re getting feedback from those leads at the different institutions. What are you hearing from both the members and the institution leads?
You know, there’ve been several areas where they have shared feedback and we have been able to act as quickly. In some cases, those changes have required a bit more investment in terms of time and dedication, but we have been able to address most of those needs in those recommendations along the way. We continue to see positive feedback on the platform as well not only through the surveys that we’ve launched through the platform but also in different ways such as commenting on posts for example or sending kudos messages or liking the communications that we post.
All of that is very important and we’re always on top of those comments shared via other posts because sometimes those can get hidden and lost in the conversation. But we always listen to those, try to address them as quickly as possible and provide follow-up as soon as possible. So that’s very important we do listen to all the feedback.
13. I want to say thank you for mentioning all the ways that you’re able to gather that feedback and continue to move the program forward and keep that user satisfaction up nice and high. Speaking of moving forward, the University of Texas System is on a different program year than many of our customers because you are a higher education system. You’re coming up on the end of your first program year right now getting ready to start year two. What are the goals for the Living Well program as we go into year 2 of your partnership with Limeade?
You know our team and each institution continue to pivot to meet employees where they are in the well-being journey and also to accommodate to remote, onsite and hybrid needs. We want to continue contributing to the employees work-life integration and we’re very excited to continue achieving set increases on the platform enrollment and engagement as well as continue improving the experience for current and new members. We look forward to continuing with the successful partnership with the Limeade customer success team and continue to hear everyone’s feedback and positive comments.
14. Do you have any big challenges or special events planned for year two or are you still working through those with the team?
Well, we always have our initiatives happening year-round. We continue to adapt and align those with what’s offered on the platform. Like we mentioned earlier, we’ve had two team challenges so far hosted on the platform and that is a tradition for us. We always have our team challenges in the spring and fall. So that will be our next big initiative and during the summer, like you mentioned, our calendar year looks a little different than for other organizations because our year runs from September through August. During the summer is when we have our annual enrollment and that will be a very busy time for us on the platform and at all the institutions. So that’s what’s in the future ahead and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone on the platform.