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Effective Communication with Employee Interaction

Kerry Alison Wekelo

Communication is what makes wellness initiatives fit together.

Let’s start this discussion with a few questions. When do you listen to what others have to say? At what point do you disengage your attention? What type of communication is most effective and captivates you to wanting to know every detail?

We live in a world of information overload and how we communicate to others is taking on a new shape and form. The good news is we have access to more free tools and easy to use technology to help us better communicate our messages.

Communicating and getting others to take action are two different aspects. If we effectively communicate, action will be taken. For example, I shared with employees the negative effects that diet soda have on the body in the form of an infographic. The other day, I received the following email from an employee:

Subject: bless me father

I had a Diet Dr. Pepper today, first soda in two months. I feel like I have to confess to Kerry… sorry Kerry, I’m not perfect.

By using an infographic, this employee gave up soda for a period. The infographic was very clear in depicting information to solicit change.

When communicating and engaging employees regarding wellness, it can be tricky as it is personal and an individual journey for everyone. Be mindful regarding how the data is communicated. Using different mechanisms will help to reach a broader audience. The remainder of this article provides steps for an engaging communication strategy:

  • Step 1 – Sequence the Communication
  • Step 2 – Develop Tidbits to Communicate
  • Step 3 – Utilize a Mix of Media

Step 1: Sequence the Communication

The first step is to recognize the abundance of information we receive daily. Instead of pouring the message into one communication, sequence it into digestible tidbits. In Jeff Walker’s book Launch, he discusses this as a strategy to market what you are trying to sell. Walker states, “The military uses a term they call “the fog of war.” Well, as a businessperson or marketer, you’re competing in an environment that I call the “communication fog.” You have to find some way to cut through that fog or your business will perish. It’s that simple.”

Step 2: Develop Tidbits for Communication

Take the information to present to employees and use an extended period to relay the information over a week or even a month. Develop a theme such as focusing on incorporating movement as a key focus.

For example, divide the information into five messages to engage employee involvement to promote moving different ways each day:

  1. Move for 30 minutes
  2. Stretch at your desk
  3. Move more today, work towards 10-15 minute intervals a few times
  4. Incorporate movement into a group meeting
  5. Bring awareness to your movements. Are you able to incorporate more movement throughout the day? At your desk? More steps? Do you feel better when you move more in short increments? What excuses are coming up for you not to get up and move?

Step 3: Utilize a Mix of Media

For the five messages above, the below are ideas to utilize a mix of media and technology to help portray the messages in a fun and interactive fashion with cartoons, facts, infographics, interactive groups, videos and quotes.

Message 1: Move for 30 Minutes

Use a wellness article on movement or a fact, such as “Exercise produces a relaxation response that serves as a positive distraction,” says Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. He says it also helps elevate your mood and keep depression at bay. With today’s message, supplement with a quote or words of wisdom formatted to draw attention.  

Message 2: Stretch at Your Desk

Send a short video link, such as the one at Zendoway that is a 2-minute sequence to move the shoulders, found at http://www.zendoway.com/movement-experience.html

Another option is to provide pictures of movement ideas at the desk. The below is one option and more are found at http://www.yogaandwork.com/yoga-exercises.html

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Photo Credit: Al Wekelo

WRIST STRETCH: Stand up and place your hands on your desk with your wrists facing the computer. Gently lean into your wrists with your palms as flat as possible.

Message 3: Move more today, work towards 10-15 minute intervals a few times

Bring some humor into the mix with a cartoon. Humor is contagious. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. The good news, laughter is priceless, fun and easy to use. Paul E. McGhee, PhD. said, “Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” 

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Message 4: Incorporate movement into a group meeting

How many times have you been about to fall asleep in a meeting or just wanted to move versus sitting for yet another hour? How about take individual or small group meetings, walk and talk. We are able to create a win/win scenario in which we are productive from a work perspective, yet also get some movement in during the day. We will come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the remainder of the day.

Message 5: Bring awareness to movements

Solicit a group discussion to reflect on the week or month of movement. We all want to be a part of community, belonging is in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Utilize tools already in place for communication in the organization. Every business has a range of channels it uses to communicate with employees. These could be discussion groups, forums, internal notice boards, blogs or networking sites; which can help employees share views, knowledge and ideas. Collaboration through tools and channels creates more of the community feel and employees may be more inclined to participate and make positive life changes.

In conclusion, use the KISS strategy, Keep It Super Simple in each communication. Think outside the box to engage employees. Ask the questions. What action are we trying to solicit? Why would the reader want to do so? Remember, the group that plays together, stays together!

About the Author

Kerry-2-6-13-#1a-(1)-aKerry Alison Wekelo is the Director of Operations at Actualize Consulting where her Leadership and Wellness programs have successfully influenced a teamwork environment. Contact Kerry at kelam@actualizeconsulting.com

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