Want to Win the Wellness Game? Start with Good Communications and Fun

For many employers, wellness has become a no-brainer. The challenge, many employers discover, is getting employees on board and keeping them on the right track.

The solution, experts say, is to keep employees informed and keep it fun.

“The goal of wellness workplace programs is to improve health and slow health care costs,” said Amy Gallagher, wellness expert with Cornerstone Group in Warwick, R.I. “And to get there, a clear communication strategy is a must.”

Gallagher noted in a recent blog post on GoLocalProv that employers need to be aggressive and proactive when promoting their programs.

“Don’t be shy when rolling out a wellness program; make it an event,” Gallagher wrote. “In a kick-off meeting, position the program as an employee benefit the employer fully supports and be sure to involve leadership.”

Gallagher also suggested discussing the importance of wellness with employees and clearly defining the activities and expectations.

Once the program is rolling, employers should consistently remind employees of the initiative and provide online portals and tools to boost participation.

Like any activity, it’s more fun when it’s a game. And wellness is no exception, according Limeade Inc.’s Henry Albrect in a recent Society for Human Resource Management report.

In the article, Albrect noted that while employers may want to be aggressive with their programs, securing buy-in from employees and making participation voluntary will generate better results.

“Traditional wellness programs often fail to achieve lasting change using a heavy-handed reliance on high incentives to drive goals passed down by the company,” Albrect wrote. Programs that rely on games that appear to serve the participants’ interests — not the company’s — tend to fare better, he noted. Also, social games — contests that involve people with whom workers already interact and know — can be particularly effective, he said.

Like any game, the players — not just the employer — will want to know the score, wrote Gallagher of Cornerstone, a Member Firm of United Benefit Advisors.

“After a cycle of activities is completed, be sure to report back to employees on progress and results. Share where the population health risks are, how future activities and participation will help reduce them and any new program goals or offerings. Don’t forget to survey employees to gauge their satisfaction with the program — perhaps the most important result of all.”

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