Secrets to Launching an Effective Wellness Program: Communication
(Second in a series: Last week’s post talked about the importance of using personal health assessments to begin a successful program.)
As with most endeavors in business and in life, communication is key if employers are to deploy an effective wellness program. The real question is, what does effective communication look like in a wellness program?
There are many ways to structure an effective communication plan, but here are some tips to help guide your communication strategy and encourage employee engagement.
Announce the program. Make your wellness program a big deal! Create a special event to kick it off to generate excitement. Communicate its importance as an employee benefit and make sure that employees see top management getting involved. It’s hard to promote wellness when employees see out-of-shape CEOs. Discuss with employees why the goals are important and what the company hopes to achieve, along with timelines. Present the incentives and how employees can earn them.
Provide documentation for the wellness plan. This may be in the form of printed pieces and/or web-based content, but you need to spell out the program description, incentives, activities, calendar and events. Make sure your HR/benefits staff is familiar and can answer all related questions.
Remind, remind, remind! Your program won’t be successful if you only mention your wellness plan once a year – you must constantly remind your employees through communication vehicles such as newsletter articles, posters, emails, texts, tweets, banners, etc., throughout the year. Having a health screening? Give employees plenty of notice and remind them to sign up well in advance and remind them numerous times.
Optima Health offers many free resources to its members to promote their wellness plan, such as posters, table tents, payroll stuffers, newsletters and fliers, along with many seasonal materials.
Name and brand your program. Your program should be unique to your company with a name and logo that is yours alone. Use it as a symbol of pride and distinction that employees will recognize so that it will stand out in program materials and on the company website from all other corporate materials.
For example, while the wellness plan Optima Health offers to its members is called MyLife MyPlan, Sentara Healthcare – using the components of Optima Health’s wellness plan – named its wellness program Mission: Health.
Create a wellness portal on your intranet. A portal will serve as the hub of wellness activity for all education, information and activities. It will also allow you to keep track of participation. Make it fun and useful!
Optima Health’s MyLife My Plan offers a complete portal for members with useful tools and information for employees. You can download a pdf document on the Optima Health website that outlines the wellness portal contents.
Share stories. As employees begin to have success, share their stories! With their permission, highlight their success when they’ve lost substantial weight, lowered their blood pressure or blood sugar levels or accomplished some other milestone. Success breeds more success! And be sure to show their “before and after” pictures!
Post results. After a designated length of time – a year perhaps – be sure to report back to employees about their progress and results. Employees are motivated to continue when they see that they’ve made progress on reducing their health risks. Show how future risks and participation will help reduce their risks even further.
Survey employees. Surveying will determine employee satisfaction with the program and determine what can be improved. An important component of any communications program, but certainly important with wellness programs!
If you are interested in starting a wellness program at your company, contact us. We’d be happy to help you get started!
(Next week: Using health coaching to make your wellness plan more effective.)