A number of workplaces across different industries are working to enhance the lives of their staff members and increase job satisfaction through the use of wellness programs. Surveys have shown that when employees do have access to wellness resources through a company-supported initiative, it can certainly make a difference.
UnitedHealthcare's 2018 Wellness Check Up Survey, for example, discovered that not only are more employers putting such programs in place – 70% of workplaces offered wellness initiatives last year compared to 58% in 2008 – workers are positively responding. Fifty-three percent of employees noted that wellness programs help improve their health, and another 62 percent noted that these initiatives can actually increase their productivity.
It's one thing to design a wellness program for your workplace – stakeholders must also ensure that they have supportive strategies to engage employees as well. Today, we're examining some of the top approaches to fostering wellness engagement and how you can make these work for your workforce.
Understand employee preferences with a wellness readiness assessment
As EBN contributor Brittany Carter pointed out, it will be an uphill battle for employers to support engagement with wellness initiatives if these programs don't align with workers' habits.
"When it comes to behavior change, you can be sure that not everyone will be ready, especially not to change everything at once," Carter wrote. "An individual may or may not be ready to change one certain behavior, but will be willing to change another."
One of the best ways to get visibility into employees' readiness for change is with an assessment. It could be as simple as sending out a workplace-wide survey to guage the stages and skill levels workers are at when it comes to their health practices, and what their future goals are. With this information, HR stakeholders can create a wellness program that takes this change readiness into account, and establish target messaging to help encourage and motivate employees.
Communicate the benefits
Speaking of target messaging around the wellness program, this is among the most important consideration HR leaders will make to support engagement. As WellSteps contributor Dr. Steve Aldana wrote, it's important not only to have this messaging in place, but to leverage several different channels to ensure that it's properly disseminated to the workforce.
"Wellness program engagement is really nothing more than selling," Aldana noted. "We're selling the benefits of a healthy lifestyle."
Consider not only the traditional channels like emails, newsletters and printed postings around the office, but also elements like social media, announcements at meetings, and other communication strategies.
Lead by example
In addition to telling employees about the advantages of participating in the wellness program, it's also beneficial for them to see higher ups engage as well. Leading by example in this way will not only help drive culture change throughout the organization, but can also be a strong motivator. After all, if executives and HR leaders are visible with the steps they are taking and wellness changes they are making, these activities will appear more reasonable for workers to take on in their lives as well.
Carter noted that these efforts can also include leaders outside of the company as well, including community stakeholders.
"Take a cue from the consumer model of behavior change," Carter wrote. "Identify the leaders in your population and work with early adopters – individuals who will quickly adopt and champion healthy benefits."
Today, one in every four Americans lives with a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and these challenges are not always visible to others. It's important to target these staff members for wellness engagement as well.
"Including people with disabilities in these activities begins with identifying and eliminating barriers to their participation," noted advocates from the CDC.
Taking certain steps like modifying physical events can help the program be more inclusive, and enable everyone to participate. For instance, Grokker contributor Britteny Salvador pointed out that instead of hosting a 5K run, companies can host a 5K "roll, walk, run" event to support the message that everyone is welcome.
Motivate with incentives
Some of the strongest encouragement can come from recognition, and awarding those who have engaged and made positive wellness changes. Using incentives to help drive engagement certainly isn't a new strategy, but it is one of the most successful.
Incentives can include all kinds of prizes or perks, depending upon employee preferences and the company's own internal resources. However, Aldana suggested creating smaller incentives – such as wellness swag or branded items – as well as larger incentives to support long-term engagement.
It's imperative to support wellness programs with engagement strategies. Even something as small as a pat on the back and a new towel to take to the gym can help employees get motivated to make positive changes.
To find out more about supporting these and other benefits initiatives in your workplace, check out our other resources and connect with the experts at Triton Benefits and HR Solutions today.