3 tips for wellness program success

By Andrew Hobbs on January 9th, 2018
  1. Employee health & wellbeing
  2. Wellbeing Programs

MY NEW Year’s Resolution to reduce the number of carbohydrates in my diet came to a screaming halt at about 4pm on New Year’s Day – as I munched on a pizza in the departures lounge at Perth Airport.

Hopefully, if your resolution was the same as mine, you’re doing better than me. But while that and every other form of New Year’s resolution come from the best of intentions, they can be very difficult to stick to.

The same can be true for workplace health and wellness programs – introduced by well-meaning company management, but often forgotten soon after they are implemented.

To help you run a program that will benefit the health of your staff while helping to increase the productivity of your workplace, here are three of the features that successful programs have (plus some of the more common pitfalls you may encounter).

  1. Keep that motivation high

It almost ought to go without saying, but employees must be engaged in the process for it to have any chance of succeeding – if a program is inflicted on them, chances are it won’t work.

As far as you are concerned, that means seeking the input of workers from all parts of your business to develop the policy – and understanding what health and wellbeing concerns they wish to address.

You should be clear that the program is being implemented as part of your business’s duty of care and is genuinely aimed at improving their health and wellbeing.

Be sure to dispel any cynicism that the program was only introduced to improve the business’s image, or to smooth over any worker unrest.

This way, employees will know your reasons for establishing the program in the first place – giving it a greater chance of success.

You might also wish to build rewards into the program to help keep employees motivated.

  1. Accountability through (realistic) goal setting

Many people think they can skip the preliminaries and get into the ‘diet and exercise part’ immediately, but learning how to set goals and achieve them is very important.

Having employees set their own health and wellness goals can help determine their future success and that of your program.

Most research suggests that the best results are achieved when people are accountable to someone else for their actions – rather than when they only interact with a computer.

Whether this person is a respected mentor, such as a qualified personal trainer, or a group of colleagues, it is important that there be regular follow-ups with the participants in a health or wellness program.

Being seen once or twice in a year is usually not enough to achieve a meaningful change in behaviour.

  1. Good advice from a respected authority or mentor

Many of the articles and advertisements in the mainstream media that deal with health and weight loss tend to be rather superficial and simplistic.

They usually target one issue only, such as sugar, fats or inactivity, and promise instant gratification and great results by simply dealing with that one issue.

Sorry, guys. There are no magic remedies, and your body will not change overnight. For a program to be successful, your workers need good information about how to make a lasting lifestyle change.

This advice does not need to be expensive – implementing a program, tutoring and follow-up counselling can succeed if done in a group setting and, depending on the group dynamic, may even be more effective.

Successful participants in a group can have a positive impact on fellow workers by demonstrating how they have managed to overcome the hurdles that may be stopping some of their colleagues from achieving their goals, and by supporting them.

Sharing information and chatting with others who are struggling with similar health-related issues can also be useful – helping people to realise that they are not alone.

For further information

Chapter H8 Health and Wellbeing Programs in the Health & Safety Handbook provides further guidance on how to introduce education and action-based health and wellbeing initiatives, as well as pointers for choosing the right program for your business.

The chapter also contains tips on designing and implementing the program, and on how the program might be evaluated to make sure it is providing the benefits you hoped it would.

It is one of more than 70 chapters in the Handbook, compiled by the lawyers at Holding Redlich. Each chapter contains valuable information to help you develop health and safety in your workplace.

Why not sign up for a 14-day, obligation-free trial to see what the Health & Safety Handbook can offer you and your business?

Click here to find out more.


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