Know Your Role
Your wellness program/portal/coaching service/campaign/incentive isn’t the center of anyone’s universe. 100% of the people working for your organization were hired to do a job, not participate in your wellness offerings. What we attempt to do for them or with them is tangential at best. And if executed poorly it can be an impediment at worst. That’s why it’s vital for participation to be voluntary. When people decide for themselves that engaging in a wellness service is in their own best interest your program becomes a net positive — for the individual and the organization. When participation is forced (to get a reduced healthcare premium, as an example) you risk disengagement from the work they were hired to do and resentment toward the wellness program.
Understand Your Audience
Knowing risk and cost is important for measuring progress over time, but your population doesn’t care about either of those. They have more pressing work, family, financial, social, emotional, and yes, health issues on their mind than risk of morbidity 5 to 10 or 20 years from now. Periodic health/risk assessments have a place, but getting to the interests and readiness of those you serve is a more direct path to engagement. Creating your own simple, actionable interest survey — one that people will actually complete — isn’t hard. And with free or low-cost survey tools you can get a pulse on employee priorities in a matter of weeks.
Lead With Empathy
The world is filled with harshness. We see it in all aspects of politics, pop culture, sports, online discourse, and entertainment. This has created a situation where individuals either disengage entirely — avoiding topics of conversation — or react with escalating rigidity… unmovable in the rightness of their position. An organization’s wellness program should aim to be an oasis from the severity. That doesn’t mean an anything goes philosophy, but rather a non-judgmental, open-minded approach to well-being. At the heart must be an understanding that we’re all trying to do our best in life and do well for ourselves as well as our families. And that plays out in voluntary participation along with supportive, uplifting messages.
Do Less to Achieve More
An unintended outcome of workplace wellness transitioning to a broader well-being model (emotional, social, financial, community, career, and physical health) is the misguided notion that we should be providing services in all of these areas all the time. Not so. If you’re fortunate enough to have the budget and expertise for top-quality resources in every dimension of well-being, you’re the exception. And don’t be seduced into thinking a vendor platform that checks all the boxes offers meaningful support. Theoretically, it’s possible. But in practice it’s unlikely. Better to work at developing the very best tools and resources that matter most (see Understand Your Audience above) to your population first, then move on to creating or purchasing services that come in second.
Invest in You
Every worthwhile New Year’s resolution article begins or ends with this advice. There’s good reason: Without it, nothing you do will be your best. What the investment looks like is different for everyone. But what’s universal is that investment in you has to come first — in your day, week, month, year. That’s a hard thing for many health promoters to wrap their head around when they have so many people and things tugging at them. If you can’t immediately put your finger on what the investment would be, take the time to figure it out.
Make 2020 the best year ever by investing in you first. Then consider how best to address the remaining resolutions.