Dr. Kantor gave suggestions for increasing employee engagement to HR.com, which will be featured in the first edition of the Recognition and Engagement Excellence Essentials ePublication.
It is very common for employers to become frustrated at lack of participation and engagement of their employees when it comes to wellness programming. Employees want to participate but they might not get involved in a program if it is not set up properly. There are several different approaches to take to get your employees to “buy into” wellness, resulting in a win-win, numerous benefits for both the employee and employer.
Ask them what they want. It is as simple as creating a survey (anonymous) and asking your employees exactly what they are interested in doing to improve their health. Some examples are smoking cessation, healthy cooking classes, a pedometer or walking step challenge, training for a 5k or 10k as a group and the list goes on. If you implement a program that your team is not interested in, then it is obvious there will be no buy in.
Make it easy for them. After you find out what type of programs they are interested in, make it easy for them to participate. Engagement stalls when employers implement programs without considering employee life priorities and how those translate to a genuine readiness to make health-related lifestyle changes. If everyone wants to do a 5k together then encourage them to walk or run on lunch breaks and allow them to eat their lunch while working at their desk. A simple bend in the rules can make or break the success and engagement of a program.
Give them incentives. Providing incentives to employees who win or actively participate in a wellness program can go a long way. Incentives can be as simple as a free lunch, gift card or iPod and as elaborate as a weekend get-a-way to a tropical paradise. Incentives can increase engagement and get employees actively involved who normally would have not participated at all.
Hire professionals. The human resources department is always busy and expecting them to run a wellness program is asking for failure. Set aside a modest budget to have a Registered Dietitian, Wellness Coach, Fitness Professional, or Healthy Chef to come in and educate and take part in helping run the program. They specialize in helping people become healthy and can assess the employees and their individual needs better then a team member from human resources. There are numerous corporate wellness programs available to employers through both independent contractors and insurance companies. Getting someone in their late 50’s to lose weight and alleviate knee pain is a completely different strategy then helping a 30 year old take off baby weight and reverse the effects of type 2 Diabetes.
Utilize your resources. I would say that all insurance companies have a health risk assessment (HRA) available for all of your employees to take as well as access to reasonable biometric screening (basic blood and body panels including BMI, glucose and cholesterol). This HRA questionnaire will enlighten you with the true health problems of your employees and you can use the results of their biometric screening to set up a result driven wellness program.
Be involved. If the employer is not involved or bought into the wellness program then the employees will not view it as important. The employer should attend lunch and learn seminars, and actively participate in the wellness programming. The employees will follow and it will also create a sense of loyalty on both sides.
This is a preview to an article that will be featured in an HR.com ePublication, Recognition and Engagement Excellence Essentials.
Be sure and order your copy of Dr. Kantor’s highly praised new book What Matters: Leadership Values that Just Might Save America. Proceeds from sales benefit the American Diabetes Foundation, the All-Natural Food Council of North America, the Natural Products Association.