1. Use existing staff to create and run a wellness program.
Asking a current employee who already has a full-time job to take on the extra burden and challenge of running an effective wellness program is a recipe for disaster. It may start off well, but eventually the lack of time and expertise to manage and administer a comprehensive wellness program becomes apparent. Onsite staff are expected to be behavior change experts and this only comes from real coach training and certifications. Wellness programs run by internal company staff typically have low participation rates and struggle to keep the program going long-term. Consider hiring a wellness professional who has the tools, resources, knowledge and experience to help your company create a comprehensive, well-planned, engaging program your employees will love participating in and watch your health care costs decrease significantly.
2. Expecting a static wellness portal to be a wellness program.
You can’t replace human interaction with a dashboard app and expect consistent, sustainable results. There’s no replacing a “live” class with demonstrations, instruction, engagement and accountability with an onsite wellness coach. A wellness coach is a professional accountability partner who mentors, educates, engages and helps to find healthy living solutions based on each employee’s needs.
3. Overly Complicated Programming. Simpler is Always Better.
To avoid failure, your wellness program should be easy to understand and follow. You need to remove all of the barriers to participation. The easier it is for your employees to engage, the more likely they will be to produce positive outcomes. Most of your employees probably spend more than 10 hours per day staring at a blue screen or their mobile devices. This leads to fatigue, stress and anxiety, lack of mobility and human interaction. Participating in activities that take them out of their normal routine creates a feeling of well-being and an opportunity to take a break and focus on feel-good healthy living techniques.
4. Failure to create a health promoting culture and environment with engagement and support of leadership team.
Many worksites initiate a corporate health and wellness program with limited leadership support. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a limitation on the effectiveness that the program will have. Companies with strong leadership support of the wellness program have leaders who participate in the program in very visible ways. They participate in campaigns, they participate in team challenges, they talk about the wellness program, they are involved in the evaluation and reports of the program and they personally believe in the benefits of having a healthy lifestyle. This can make all the difference in how an employee perceives the program and is encouraged to attend workshops, classes and challenges. Adopting healthy behaviors is actually fairly easy. The challenge is to maintain these healthy behaviors for the rest of your life. Worksites that can create health-promoting environments and a culture that supports healthy living will experience a variety of positive wellness outcomes including an increase in productivity and creativity and a decrease in sick days and employee burnout. The most effective programs use multiple streams of communication from the leadership team in the form of email, newsletters, website portal, tabletop tents, meeting announcements, staff meetings, text messaging, Facebook, new employee orientation and calendars. The more you talk about your wellness program, the more you change your culture and the outcomes for success!
5. Incentivizing the wrong things.
Gift cards, raffles, an extra vacation day or lunch on the company are incentives that employees love and are often motivated by. However, it’s important to offer these at appropriate times and not just for filling out surveys, logging on to a website to read a healthy living article or showing up for a biometric screening. These incentives offer real change when given after a behavioral or health challenge or series of workshops have been completed. It’s important to reward the consistent effort towards making real life, healthy changes. Consider also including the employees spouse or significant other in participating in the programs. Studies show participation increases as do the success rates of new healthy living techniques when the employee has support at home.
For more on Christine’s work, visit www.PeaceandPear.com