So we talked about the right mindset that HR Professionals have to develop in order to run effectively their wellbeing initiatives and about the content of such programs. Is this all it takes to succeed in this field? No, it’s not.
There are three more parameters HR should have in mind to get the desired results, when it comes to managing wellbeing programs.
1. Support of your manager
Designing and developing a wellness program is impossible without the support of your manager. That is a fact. So what happens, when such program is coming totally from you, and you have to persuade for its importance and subsequently for its implementation?
The first thing you want to do is to be prepared. Know your stuff (numbers always help with that). You can begin with a short conversation about wellness programs and their benefits (case studies, successful implementation and their results in numbers, are only a few data you can present to your boss). After that you may suggest a questionnaire to be completed by all employees, to identify their preferences and needs and when you will have at your disposal all these information you could start running your first fitness club, which will be based on your employees’ preferences. All these require no money, but your time, which is extremely good for your boss and his budget restraints.
When time comes for you to ask for money, because you want for instance to involve an in-house trainer for one of your fitness clubs, then the situation becomes a bit more difficult. In order to ask for money, you are required to have the support of the participants of your wellness program (high status employees are important, but having a great number of participants also helps). You have to estimate annual expenses involving this new initiative, its participants and the benefits it involves not only for the people participating, but for the organization as a whole (employer brand, best place to work Awards, etc.). So in other words, any benefit generated by implementing such initiative.
The approach described above is a conservative one, since you move with the flow, without bringing a great and immediate change. This may work for some of you, but you could also act more drastically, depending always on your boss and the environment you work in. You could for example, schedule a meeting for a new proposal, in which you would analyze the whole project of designing and developing a wellness program. Steps, content, benefits, suppliers, budget, everything would be discussed in that meeting. The danger of this approach though is that, there is too much change and expenses involved out of the blue. So a more a conservative approach would be a better planning option.
2. Building Engagement
This part, I thing, is interesting not only for the ones that plan to develop wellness programs, but also for those managing them at the moment. Achieving employee engagement is hard, and either you are already aware of it, or you will become as soon as the plan will go to implementation phase. So the question is how do we increase employee engagement in all the great initiatives we plan and develop as HR, or as Wellness Specialists?
The first essential thing to do is to involve employees in decision making!!! Make them part of this process, so they could feel they contribute and this will make them more eager to participate, talk about the program to others and push for greater participation. Build a wellness team and schedule a meeting every 3-4 months to discuss your progress, any new ideas and ways of communicating your wellness initiatives!
Then there is also the leadership of you organization. Senior employees, managers with great influence can strongly communicate the commitment of the organization to increase the wellbeing of its people, by participating in fitness clubs, by eating healthier snacks and in general by taking advantage of what the organization offers in the framework of its wellbeing program. This commitment shows that the organization has as one of its priorities the wellbeing of its employees and that it is ok for example, for them to leave earlier in order to join the running club every Tuesday.
So you have everything set up; the pillars of your wellness program, the activities, the team. As everything else, official communication has to accompany your initiatives. With regards to communication, your goal is to inform all employees about what is offered in order to maximize the return on investment, by improving the health of as many people as possible.
Communication could be done through a lot of things, such as E-Mails, messages presented on the TV screen in the cafeteria, posters, etc. You could combine all these channels or identify what works best at your company and stick to that. Another, even more effective way of communicating (in my case at least), is having champions, employees leading an initiative. Through champions, it is much easier to reach to employees, and for employees to learn more about what is going on. Champions will spread the word about that new Zumba fitness club, inform others about the time and the days of the week it takes place, and all that during a coffee break. The only thing you have to take into consideration is picking the right people for the role of a champion. An effective champion has to be honestly interested in the activity/initiative he is representing in order to be able to bring others onboard, otherwise his vibe won’t be energetic enough to bring other employees onboard. You could either start with 5 champions and see who is the best one, in case there is great interest but no experience regarding the activity, or you could identify the person who is already active in that sport/hobby and make him/her a champion.