HRD Service Provider Awards 2023: Virgin Pulse

Virgin Pulse claimed the silver medal for its groundbreaking use of engagement, moving employees into the next era of health

Virgin Pulse received the silver medal in the Corporate Health and Wellbeing category in the 2023 HRD Service Provider Awards. The company’s regional director, APAC, Hussein Hamka, sat down with HRDTV to discuss how its platform supports employee wellbeing and how mental health has become a greater priority over the past five years.  

“From our surveys internally and through the industry, mental health support is the number one most asked for area of support,” Hamka said. “So what we know is there's a need there, we know we have to do something about it.”

To view full transcript, please click here

Kylie Speer [00:00:08] Hello, and welcome to HRD TV. I'm Kylie Speer. And joining me today is Hussein Hamka, Senior Regional Manager at Virgin Pulse. Virgin Pulse has received the silver medal in the corporate health and wellbeing category in the 2023 HRD Service Provider Awards. Welcome to you Hussein congratulations and thank you so much for joining us today. 

Hussein Hamka [00:00:31] Thanks, Carly. Thanks to HRD, super excited to be part of this award and be recognized. It's definitely what we're all about and the impact we make. So thanks a lot.  

Kylie Speer [00:00:40] Well, firstly, Hussein can you tell us a little more about Virgin Pulse and what the company does? 

Hussein Hamka [00:00:48] Absolutely. Virgin Pulse. We live by the motto of changing lives for good. We're all about driving health and behavior change for employees around the globe, we've got over 7000 clients served 14 million users. And fundamentally, we're all about providing that configurable, unique solution for each and every individual been around for 19 years. In doing that, and over that time, we've naturally evolved and become I guess, industry leaders in driving that engagement and behavior change, right? are the key things for us that really make us unique. 

Kylie Speer [00:01:18] Hussein, How do you create high levels of employee engagement with your clients at Virgin Pulse? 

Hussein Hamka [00:01:25] Yeah, that's a million dollar question. That's where we're unique and really well known for the way in which we do it. It's multifaceted, right? It comes down to a few different key elements. And it all starts with effective communication, making sure that we promote effectively to the right employees, whether there's they're dispersed or wherever they are across the globe, that's really key. And we know when it comes to engagement, we want to make sure it's ongoing as well. So that comes from having a really personalized experience on the platform. We're fueled by artificial intelligence that nudges and recommends unique triggers, which drive that behavior change to individuals, right? So you're gonna get something unique to you call it that's what's unique, and you're going to feel like it's a personal coaching journey. And you're gonna grow through that experience and naturally be more engaged because you're finding yourself actualize your potential, and your health. 

Kylie Speer [00:02:14] What types of preventative and proactive wellbeing measures do you offer to drive employee wellbeing? 

Hussein Hamka [00:02:22] Yeah, great question. We are a proactive and preventative solution. That's where we really segregate ourselves in the market. And we fulfill that by thinking, how can we make sure less people are feeling quite feeling or affected by chronic conditions, or really suffering when it comes to their health. And the way in which we do it is number one, we help individuals and organizations identify the health of the individual in the population, right, the whole employee base, we essentially do that with a certified health risk assessment, which helps individuals understand their high, medium and low risks. And of course, that self awareness, then drives the ability for the individual to be mindful of what might be a health risk in the future, and start applying proactive and preventative measures through engaging in health literacy or behavior change pieces, which include over 45 topics of interest, and inclusive in that chronic conditions that are prevalent within society. So that's, that's a couple of many ways that we do that. Within the solution. We also are backed by science Advisory Board and Chief Medical Officer in the way of ensuring that it's all backed by science, evidence based and drives that real measured outcomes that we're looking for. 

Kylie Speer [00:03:30] Hussein as well as looking at the entire employee body, are you able to analyze and track individual wellbeing and measure outcomes? 

Hussein Hamka [00:03:40] Absolutely. You mentioned the whole employee body, no doubt, every employee gets a great snapshot and deep analysis in regards to the employee health and urine, your chain, which is very important. But from an employee and individual perspective, we've got the opportunity to help the individual understand their health, state of health, their health risks, insert stats and digest data across key conditions, whether it be glucose management, cholesterol, a whole bunch of biometrics, and by doing that we're allowing the solution then to drive preventative change and provide that individual with an insight into the year or nutrients that are they improving when it comes to certain health measures? Or are they reaching their goals, for example, and they can choose what they are so on both ends, because what we're trying to do as an engagement platform is creating unique individual experience highly engaging, which we've spoken about. And then while doing so providing the individual with the  confidence to keep driving that and the organization to understand on a day to identify population level, what year on year change or what changes is a solution encouraging. 

Kylie Speer [00:04:44] Employers rely on top providers like Virgin Pulse far more now than they did five years ago. What has driven this shift in a greater prioritization of mental health? 

Hussein Hamka [00:04:56] Yeah, no doubt Kylie. We're seeing the same thing and what we see is employee's  are struggling with mental ill health. And that really comes out in various ways, whether it's stress, burnout, anxiety. And so no doubt COVID had an effect in regards that unique time, a lot of change a lot of pressure, and people had to really find new routines in a way to actualize their health and the way they live. And so what we've seen since then, is a huge increase in mental health, want and need. We know that employees look at their employer in the first instance for support. And so employers are actually being proactive and saying, How can we help from our surveys internally and through the industry? mental health support is the number one most asked for an area of support. So what we know it's, there's a need there, we know we have to do something about it. When it comes to mental health as well. What we've realized is, is of course, it's different for everyone. So when you come and work with us, it's important for us to help you identify what's your root cause? What are the true areas, things that cost a living, financial health, the big things at the moment that of course, can affect your mental health. And so by understanding and identifying that we can actually support you through health literacy and behavior change to build that area of health, which ideally will help you promote a flourishing life and work on a proactive and preventative perspective. 

Kylie Speer [00:06:16] Hussein you've already briefly touched on AI, what role does it fulfill when it comes to personalization? 

Hussein Hamka [00:06:24] Yeah, it's a big one, the use of technology is key. We are a technology business. Ultimately, that drives behavior change and engagement for individuals and insight for organizations. From our perspective, it's all about really investing heavily into technology, we're naturally AI now has become quite ubiquitous. Specifically, we invest around 70 million per year in the recent years in regards to Tech. And specifically, that means artificial intelligence and machine learning where the platform can digest your unique information, and give you nudges or recommendations, as a suggested next best step that's relevant for you. What that means is two people won't have the same experience, you're gonna get something unique to you, it's going to feel like a personal coaching journey. And naturally, you're going to be more engaged with it, you're not going to get information on how to quit smoking, if you're not a smoker, for example, you're going to get something relevant to you based on your goals. It's holistic, that's lifestyle medicine that drives real change. And ultimately, you're going to feel better and come back, ideally, from all because you're rewarded with the good health. 

Kylie Speer [00:07:27] In terms of tracking results for your clients, what do you measure and deem to be the key metrics? 

Hussein Hamka [00:07:34] Yeah, we have a wonderful client success team account management team, they're all about this, about identifying understanding your goals and tracking what's important to you as a business, specifically, typically, these are things like engagement, enrollment, productivity, absenteeism, and ultimately the ultimate productivity of the business we help on a on a large scale, recognize that, and then on the individual element, as well is to help identify through the identified reporting, particular areas of business that might be high risk area, and then be able to signpost them particular programs, or support, right. So we're catching people early to make sure that on their health continuum, it's not too late. We're being reactive, right another type of insights that turns to interventions that makes real wellbeing change. 

Kylie Speer [00:08:20] And finally Hussein, and looking at the Australian market specifically, what trends have you noticed in employee wellbeing, and what do you anticipate as the next major set of issues or developments in this space? 

Hussein Hamka [00:08:36] Yeah, I mean, trends are always a big one. But we know that I think we've hit a hit on it today. Mental Health, definitely a big one. Psychosocial hazards within the workplace and supporting individuals, to be authentically themselves is a is a really big one and topic at the moment. And organizations are really focusing on ways to make sure that every individual feels safe in the workplace. There are two key ones and that no doubt, I think personalization, right? We're starting to recognize that if we don't meet our individuals where they are, we're really going to miss that chance to engage with them. engagements that are all time low, time to bring that back up and support our people there, especially managers as well. It's a key one, right? If you've got the right leaders in the business, driving that engagement, you're going to lead to more operational and external, whole business outcomes. In regards to what we see in the market. What you can expect the next five months, harbored works definitely here to stay. So it's about how is that going to eventuate in the market, and how are we going to support our people, technology is key to help connect our people wherever they are, and drive that organizational culture. So if you're not utilizing a way to connect everyone, it's something to think about. And on top of that, it's really going to come down to being diverse in our approach, respecting neuro diversity and providing access to features that meet people where they are and the way they like to learn. And of course, if you're not holistic and personalized, you're going to miss the chance to connect with an individual and help them with their health. Right. We're all different, we all aspire for different things. If you ask the two of us what health means we'll likely have a different answer. And so we have to find a solution that helps fulfill both of those needs. 

Kylie Speer [00:10:11] Well, congratulations on your well deserved accolade. And thank you so much. Once again for your time today. Hussein, it was so great speaking with you.  

Hussein Hamka [00:10:21] Great to chat Kylie, thanks to you and the HRD team. 

Kylie Speer [00:10:24] And thank you, of course to our viewers for watching the latest episode of HRD TV. We look forward to seeing you again soon.