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The Do's and Don'ts of an Engaging Wellness Program: Part Three

Benjamin Prinzing

Founder and President of Kadalyst

This is part three of our wellness series by Benjamin Prinzing, president of corporate wellness company Kadalyst, exploring the ten things you need to do to engage employees in your wellness program. If you haven't yet, check out the first six steps in Part One and Part Two of the series.

The keyword in "employee wellness" is, of course, employee. However, most corporate wellness programs fail to either reach the employee in the first place, or don't spark enough interest with employees to get them engaged. To wrap up this series, let's focus on the do's and don'ts of how to best interact with your employees.

7) Do Demo Your Demographics

The most important thing to know about your employees is who they are, so you can speak their language: Millennials vs. Baby Boomers, males vs. females, production vs. administration are just several ways to segment your workforce. Define your segments, and figure out how to communicate with each of them. Strong, personalized communication will significantly increase your rates of employee engagement.

Take a Financial Wellness Program for example, and consider how you might roll it out to your workforce. You probably wouldn't blast out an invite to your millennials about a retirement planning workshop or text a video link about buying your first home to your Baby Boomers.

In short, your employees have different interests and receive their information differently, so experiment with your segments. Most importantly, ask for their input! There is no one-size-fits all, but once you figure out what works best for who, you'll have a winning formula for launching future initiatives.

8) Don't Forget About Middle Management

Management buy-in is crucial to launching any aspect of your wellness program. A lot of people lean on "leadership buy-in," but in my experience, it's actually middle management that holds the key to creating a sustainable and engaging wellness program.

Middle management typically oversees the majority of the workforce on a day-to-day basis, so this is where you need to spend a big chunk of your time. Get to know your managers personally, so when it comes time to launch a new wellness initiative, they'll be champions for the program instead of blockades.

Remember, your managers have their own set of responsibilities and wellness may not always be top of mind—especially if they're constantly under pressure to hit deadlines or quotas. Be mindful, respectful and empathetic of what your managers do and learn how best to communicate within their departments, so you're not being disruptive.

9) Don't Rely on Technology Alone

Technology start-ups are taking nearly every industry by storm and employee wellness is no exception. We see more and more technology solutions arising from apps to wearables, but there is still no replacement for human-to-human contact. In fact, studies are already coming out showing that technology solutions are not increasing program participation or doing any better at getting employees healthier.

recent study showed that over 40 percent of activity tracker owners stop using them within six months, but employers are still out there purchasing FitBits for each team member. Remember, any technology solution is just a tool. People still need to be educated, trained and reminded constantly of the resources available to them and how it can benefit their lives.

10) Do think of Employees as Customers

If I can leave you with one main thought, it would be to think of your employees as customers. What products or services interest them? Which ones might they not be thinking of, but would be of great benefit? How does your "customer" receive information? Is there a best time of day or week? Are there cultural influences to be recognized?

The well-being of your employees is your mission. By involving them in the process instead of introducing a prescriptive program, you'll find measurable differences in your participation rates and, most importantly, in your employees' overall health.

Photo: Creative Commons

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For more information on how to support employees’ mental health during this difficult time and into the future, check out this recent article from Cornerstone’s EVP of Learning and Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller.

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