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Aug . 2017

Ramp Up Participation in Your Corporate Wellness Program

  • by Julie Ferguson
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  • with 0 Comment
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  • in program management, Tools

There are many reasons why corporate wellness programs fail to generate the employee engagement that employers hope for: the program may be poorly designed, incentives may be misaligned or sometimes, there simply isn’t enough buy-in or commitment from senior management. But sometimes the lack of engagement boils down to something that can be relatively easily remedied: Underselling. The communication effort to employees simply isn’t adequate in reach, frequency, or message to sufficiently generate participation.

a corporate wellness program diagram

Often, a new corporate wellness benefit is promoted by:

  • Announcing the benefit in a letter or a flyer with a bulleted list of features
  • Including the benefit in new hire orientation
  • Including a blurb about the benefit in a handbook or Intranet list of benefits
  • Periodically reinforcing wellness benefit availability

That will likely generate some participation. There are some people who are very interested in fitness, health and wellness and won’t need much to pique their interest. We’d maintain that most of those “early adapters” may not be the ones who could most benefit by the wellness program. Change is hard, and it’s human nature that many people aren’t ready to make change until they need to. People often tune out messaging until they are ready to act.

We’d assert that maximizing wellness engagement beyond the “early adapters” takes a much more aggressive communication program, one that takes a page from successful advertisers: focus on reach, frequency and the simple successful mantra of repeat, repeat, repeat.

It also takes a more opportunistic approach. In behavioral terms, readiness to change is often described as a change continuum, with various stages:

  • Precontemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance and relapse prevention

In sales (think persuasion) terms, Google talks about how sales messaging must show up at the decision moment, which they call the “Zero Moment of Truth.” Avinash Kaushik, a Google Digital Marketing Evangelist, talks about being ready for that Zero Moment of Truth by leveraging all the “tools that are available to us to show up at the right moment in front of the right person with the right message.”

Are you leveraging all the tools available to take advantage of your employees “Zero Moment of Truth”?

  • Workplace “point of sale” such as bulletin boards, cafeteria table tents, and posters.
  • Direct mail – payroll stuffers, letters to the home
  • Web-based tools – Intranets and apps
  • SMS text messaging
  • Email messaging
  • Events: messaging at company and team meetings, health fairs, brown bag lunches, webinars and trainings

Are you varying the message in consideration of the continuum or change?

Everybody’s “zero moment of truth” — or in this case, readiness to explore health changes — will vary based on personal circumstances and where they are on the continuum of change. For one person, a readiness to change might be triggered by age marker such as turning 40; for another, it might be a recommendation from their physician on an annual visit; or it might be a desire to get back in shape after childbirth; a response to a health crisis of a family member or friend; or simply a desire to lose weight for a special event like a wedding, a vacation, or a high school reunion.

Vary messaging to include educational messages, reminders, health studies, specific wellness benefit features and more. Vary the sender, too. Have messages come from different people: the CEO, HR, healthcare provider, wellness partner, and peers in the form of testimonials.

We learned firsthand that heightened communications can translate to higher utilization via a study conducted by our affiliated ESI Employee Assistance Program. In the study, employers who increased the frequency of messaging saw a 380% increase  EAP engagement. We’ve seen similar results with corporate wellness programs via our comprehensive employee wellness communications program and our Automated Digital Communications program, which features:

  • Corporate wellness brochures, table tent displays, posters, and other collateral materials
  • Explanation of the Workplace Wellness Coaching process
  • Communication about Health Risk Appraisals (HRAs)
  • Employee Wellness Incentive Communications
  • Employee Workplace Wellness Presentations
  • Email Communications (wellness tips)
  • Topical health and wellness video presentations
  • Health Fair Planning and attendance
  • Corporate Wellness Workshops
  • Corporate Wellness Portal and Wellness Apps
Jul . 2017

9 Reasons Why Employee Wellness Programs Fail

  • by Julie Ferguson
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  • with 0 Comment
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  • in Research

So you introduced a wellness benefit and are disappointed with the results. Maybe our coaches and counselors can help: we asked them to tell us why employee wellness programs fail. Here’s what they said:

two people jogging

1. Insufficient senior buy-in. Let’s face it. Organizational priorities are set by the person in the corner office. If an organization’s CEO/president gets behind an initiative and champions it, it has greater chance of success. When a management team is visibly committed to a value and a goal, they shape the behavior of others. If you truly want to shape your organization’s culture to one of health and wellness, set the priority and fund it. Talk the talk and walk the walk, or as the great Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.”

2. Employees don’t engage. Unlike the famous “If you build it, they will come” quote in Field of Dreams, simply building a wellness program does not mean employees will embrace it. A new benefit needs to be explained and promoted repeatedly through a robust wellness communication program. Many times, people may be aware there is a wellness program, but not be aware of the many available benefits. While a wellness program may have immediate appeal for a segment of the work population, for others interest may be opportunistic. Health is a dynamic concept: today’s healthy person could suddenly gain 20 pounds; be ready to kick the nicotine habit; could approach a 40th birthday with a desire to get fit; or could learn they have a health condition with dietary restriction. Take a message from advertisers: Creative, frequent messaging in a variety of media can keep awareness high and attract people when the moment is right.

3. Too activities-based. Your goal should be to build a culture of health & wellness in your organization. While pedometer challenges, “biggest loser” contests and team sports can be fun, you should aim for a multi-faceted sustainable program that focuses on building a program to raise health awareness and give employees a broad range of tools to help them attain their own personal health goals. Activities and challenges may be one component, but coaching, webinars, health information, stress reduction, mental health programs, substance abuse counseling, smoking cessation and health risk assessments are all important, too.

4. Too much stick, not enough carrot. Wellness incentives are great and can be a powerful tool to really bolster engagement. Incentives can run the gamut from recognition or merchandise to cash or reduced health care premiums. Generally, positive incentives go over better than disincentives, which might be perceived as punitive or discriminatory. If you offer incentives, make sure that criteria are inclusive enough that they would not inadvertently discriminate against anyone, per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Learn more about incentives in our Employee Wellness Knowledge Center.

5. One-size fits all. Some people are joiners and like group activities; others are more private; some people like the help and guidance of coaches, mentors and peers; others like to have the tools, but to go at their own pace. Make sure your program has a wide variety of choices in tools and activities to meet the many appetites and preferences of your work population.  And again, options are important to to ensure that your wellness program complies with the ADA.

6. Not enough employee input in program. Do you have a wellness advisory committee to offer feedback for goal setting and to help plan and promote activities? Participation fosters a sense of ownership and helps to motivate employees to achieve personal and company-wide objectives. Employees should be encouraged to share ideas that foster wellness, safety, and health for themselves and others. While a top down commitment is essential, a peer-to-peer approach such as a Health & Wellness committee can be a powerful adjunct.

7. Privacy concerns. Employees value their privacy and many are reluctant to share personal information with their employer for fear that it might affect their job security. This is particularly true when it comes to health or medical information. Many employees have fears that if their employer knows they have a health condition, it might affect their health benefits or be a basis of discrimination. While they may like the idea of taking a health risk assessment, they may worry about providing private health information through an employer. Emphasizing privacy and being clear about what data is and isn’t collected and how it is used can go a long way to allaying such fears.

8. Limited accessibility. Can your employees access your wellness program schedules, tools and activities via a wellness portal and a wellness apps? Are activities only available during off-work hours, or are some activities available on work premises, or during work time, break time, lunch time or pre- and post-work hours?

9. Narrow goals. While a common reason many employers turn to wellness programs is to reduce healthcare costs, this is a long-term not a short-term goal. If that is an organization’s only metric, it can feel like no progress is being made early on. There are many other advantages to a wellness program – enriching benefits to attract/retain employees; enhancing employee morale; improving overall employee health & wellness; reducing absenteeism and presenteeism; and reducing employee stress.

Jul . 2017

How Nutrition Coaching Can Increase Productivity and Employee Satisfaction

  • by Julie Ferguson
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  • with 0 Comment
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  • in Nutrition and Diet

Nutrition coaching can bolster employee productivity. When employees eat right and feel healthy, they are more energetic and less susceptible to illness. Let's face it - most people don't know the ins and outs of good nutrition.....Read More

Jul . 2017

How to find the right workplace wellness incentive model

  • by Julie Ferguson
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  • with 0 Comment
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  • in Wellness Incentives

Offering the right workplace wellness incentives can supercharge employee participation and engagement in your organization's health and wellness program. It can also boost morale, help employees reach health goals, and can even help to pay....Read More

Jul . 2017

Benefits of Napping at Work

  • by Julie Ferguson
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  • with 0 Comment
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  • in Sleep

More and more companies are bolstering productivity through power napping at work. What do they know that you don't know? According to Gallop, Americans currently average 6.8 hours of sleep at night, down more than an....Read More

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