“Bring your best self to work.” “Employees are our greatest asset.”
Time-worn expressions like these invite cynical responses today, as employees struggle with anxiety, depression, physical health issues, social isolation, burnout and exhaustion from constant change. Employees want to believe the company is truly concerned about them as a whole person. Most employers now recognize that workers need support. Successful well-being programs offer increased holistic resources supporting physical, mental/emotional, financial, social and professional well-being.
However, one of the biggest frustrations we frequently hear is the lack of employee awareness of their employer’s rich offerings. This gap in knowledge stops people from taking needed but challenging steps to adopt healthier lifestyle habits, manage their resilience and coping skills, overcome financial challenges or pursue other well-being goals.
Now more than ever, organizations need to expand efforts beyond merely sending out more newsletters, emails, posters or assuming self-serve wellness websites are the cure. Training techniques can be incorporated as a trigger, educator and motivator.
Training Tips That Make a Difference
A total well-being approach enables employees to personalize what will best enhance their wellness. Here are ways training support can be integrated into a well-being strategy and promotion.
Conduct a Learner Assessment
Through a survey or focus group, confirm employees’ level of understanding, gaps and needs. A classic outcome of failed wellness programs has been realizing that many employees simply don’t know about or how to find resources, or the current user experience causes employees to simply give up. These fact-finding discussions are good ways to understand what is important to employees and what might motivate them to change to a healthier lifestyle — or if program changes are needed.
Start at the Top
Ensure leaders and managers understand how their words and actions support and influence a life in pursuit of holistic well-being. Employees want to see authenticity and the ability to trust that the focus on wellness is more than lip service. Many managers need their own training first, to set an example and help cite tools and resources. Some may still need proof that these programs are worth the effort. For return on investment (ROI), reducing unnecessary health costs is often debated. The most convincing argument may be culture-building, acknowledging current stressors and the unacceptable alternative of allowing employees to continue to be distracted from their work, or moving on to a more supportive employer.
Set One Goal
We all know that New Year’s resolutions are notorious for being vague and soon forgotten. Instead, companies can provide simple training in setting goals (for instance, using the SMART approach), then challenging employees to set just one goal to start with. The concept of tiny habits confirms that change is more likely to be successful. Focusing one’s wellness plan on a single goal can start with actions as basic as participating in an education session or getting coaching support to stay on track with a healthy eating initiative.
Promote and Promote Again
Expecting employees to remember wellness programs that are only mentioned at annual enrollment or on a self-serve basis is too passive. Reminders almost always drive spikes in utilization. Promote resources in town hall sessions, in-person or webinar lunch-and-learn settings or recordings hosted on your learning management system. Include navigation instructions and tips; confusing websites and login requirements often trip up and discourage users. Encourage attendance by offering wellness incentives, credits or hold raffles for fun prizes.
Check in Often
To achieve a culture of well-being, the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) highlights the need for leadership support, incentives, comprehensive programs, and resources. Coordination among programs, communications, data and strategy are key. The biggest measure of success is how well employees understand and adopt personal well-being. Assessment efforts can include integrating learning quizzes into wellness communications to confirm understanding – and potentially enable earning an incentive for completion. Such tools can also produce personalized recommendations to identify and encourage pursuing relevant goals and resources.
Training Can Spur and Sustain Improved Well-being
Employee needs differ widely. What an employee needs right now will change as life events occur or the individual regains energy and motivation to make healthy changes. Likewise, a health condition or financial stressor may need to be broken down into component parts and steps prioritized for improvement.
Employers often benchmark best practices. Yet, what works in one culture may not in another; what sparks engagement for one employee may not for another. Through training, education, and ongoing creative and personalized promotion, employers can inspire employees and families to embrace well-being offerings.