Workplace wellness programs have been gaining popularity as a way for employers to promote a healthy workplace and encourage employees to lead healthy lifestyles.
Being able to engage as many employees In Wellness Initiatives as possible to achieve the best outcomes for the entire workforce is the ultimate goal but easier said than done. Addressing the needs of many is almost impossible with a singular approach – there is no one size fits all to successful programming. The most successful workplace wellness strategies take a number of things into account including desired outcomes, employee input, variety of programs, communication and visible leadership support. Here are 3 things to consider when designing your Annual Wellness Plan.
Incorporate Current Trends
An emerging program trend in Wellness is through online gamification. Gamification is the concept of applying game design techniques and game mechanics to non-game situations to make the user experience more engaging and effective.
These wellness programs are typically run as team or individual challenges, in which employees commit to accomplishing team and / or personal health goals, for a period of 3 to 12 weeks.
The programs are action-oriented, motivating employees to make defined behaviour changes. They also help generate a greater sense of belonging through social media connectivity, friendly competition and shared success. In other words, they make being at work more fun.
Gamified programs can be highly effective, so it is rather tempting to both employers and program providers alike to rely heavily, if not exclusively, on them to fulfill their wellness program offerings:
- They provide process measures including participation and satisfaction;
- They provide impact measures such as behaviour change and improved health (if follow-up evaluation is done);
- The top platforms include education on a variety of health topics;
- They are highly visible in the organization and show the employer’s commitment to employee health; and,
- They function as a showcase of employee engagement.
Remember, what is “trendy” today may not be the case in a few months, so having a diversified program plan is critical.
Diversify Your Programs
When designing a comprehensive workplace wellness program strategy that will help your organization reduce risk by targeting employees at various stages of readiness to change (see Prochaska and Diclemente’s Transtheoretical Model of behaviour change), it is important to offer programming that will resonate with the greatest number of individuals. Most likely, the individuals with the highest health risks are not participating in behaviour change programs, because they are not ready to change and don’t want to be engaged at such an intense or highly visible level.
That’s not to say that this group cannot be engaged in health and wellness initiatives. Rather, they need access to a variety of program options – options that are designed to engage individuals who are considering, but who are not quite ready (precontemplative or contemplative), to make some lasting healthy lifestyles changes.
Be Inclusive and Engaging
Our experience shows that engagement in personal health and wellness is possible at all stages of readiness to change. This is why a comprehensive approach to program design targets employees across an organization who may be neglected and / or not effectively engaged in the programs discussed above.
An employee who sees an email or poster about a program or resource, or casually drops into a health fair, may start to think about what they would like to do, begin to do some reading on a specific health topic, and move towards making a change at a pace that is comfortable and most effective for them.
Consider the types of health promotion programs that will engage people in different ways:
- Awareness: Ongoing health promotion integrated with organizational communication systems and other health partners;
- Assessment: Organizational and individual evaluation of health risks, needs and interests, and satisfaction with workplace health offerings;
- Education: Opportunities for deeper learning and understanding that influence individual beliefs, attitudes and values about health; and,
- Action & Engagement: Interactive, facilitated, behaviour change programs.
Incorporating a variety of “what’s hot,” along with program options that promote inclusiveness into your wellness strategy, will help promote greater engagement throughout your organization and ultimately provide more value to both employees and employer.
HSG’s Wellness Model of program design is grounded in modern behaviour change theory, and provides a simple foundation to assist the cycle of planning, implementing and evaluating a comprehensive workplace health and wellness program.
Click here for an overview of HSG’s Wellness Program Resources, and we invite you to click the green button below download our Free Health Promotion Calendar for some inspiration to help you bring Wellness to your workplace or organization.
About the author
Laura Sullivan is the Wellness Manager at HSG. Laura has been inspiring people to be healthy and helping to create healthy places to work for over 15 years. She has lead individuals and groups in corporate and community settings to achieve their health and wellness goals and actively engage in a positive community. Like so many others in this busy world, her own wellness goals include finding a fulfilling personal balance in work, home and health!