HR Management & Compliance, Talent

Wellness Requires Communication, Feedback, and Incentives

In yesterday’s Advisor we looked at two tips for creating a culture of wellness at your organization by answering what employees want and what they need. Today we’ll look at three more tips including incentives, communication, and feedback.

Step 3—Develop Programs that Tie Incentives to Outcomes/Behaviors

We’re creatures of habit, and changing lifestyle habits is no easy feat. Tying incentives, both monetary and nonmonetary, to the behaviors (and ultimate lifestyle change) you’re looking to see your employees embrace is a great way to motivate that change and encourage participation.

After you take a stab at creating educational programs, activities, and outcome-based incentive plans based on the NEEDS and WANTS, it’s important to circle back with the employee group (maybe those who participated in your focus groups) to get their feedback on the program. Are you directionally correct? What are some tweaks or incentives they would suggest to ensure employee interest and participation? Do they have any recommendations for communication plans to roll out the new programs?

Step 4—Communicate and Be Role Models

Proper communication is key. No program, regardless of how well designed, will work if employees don’t know about or understand it. While face-to-face, in-person communication is ideal, it is not always feasible. Organizations with a remote workforce can take advantage of webcasts or meetings-in-a-box to help communicate the program design and incentive structure. Don’t forget about the folks at home. For program eligible spouses and dependents, make sure to include materials that can be mailed, taken home, or posted digitally for them to access.

It is equally important that leadership be on board with and be role models for the desired behaviors. Your employees are looking at you—even something seemingly small like encouraging healthier eating while continuing to serve donuts and coffee cake at meetings can send the message that the company and its leaders are not fully committed to the behaviors they are trying to incent. In order to truly turn the tide, leaders at all levels need to walk the walk, and company policy needs to support them being able to do so.

Step 5—Evaluate and Iterate

Your program is never going to be perfect, but it can definitely be good enough to make a difference. It’s important to get something out there, get feedback from participants, and iterate to constantly improve. Think about the apps we download on our phones. They work to get a product out and constantly make improvements based on user feedback. The same thing works for your health and wellness program. While benefit plan changes are difficult to make off-cycle, you can quickly get feedback and make changes to programming, though, keep in mind that when connecting your program to measurable health and wellness outcomes, it will take a longer period of time to see meaningful changes. But, don’t let that discourage you, stay the course.

Your employees’ and organization’s health is worth it!

Dr. Harold Hardaway built his career navigating executives and organizations through change initiatives and helping them turn their culture into a strategic advantage. Beginning his career as a corporate trainer, Hardaway is a skilled facilitator with a unique ability to operate at the strategic and tactical level with a primary focus on leadership, corporate culture, and organizational change.

Shannon Hernandez, CHC, is a gifted communication and marketing strategist who, over the last 15 years, has made a name for herself creating game-changing communication and health and wellness initiatives that facilitate organizational and personal growth.