Business of Well-being

Creating a Culture of Wellness with Employee Outreach and Social Media

As more and more companies start to implement wellness programs to address the continued rise in health care costs and the need for healthier employees. They are constantly trying to address the issue of actually creating a "Culture of Wellness" instead of having a "Program of the Month" mentality.

Every wellness program launches with great hopes and expectations that everyone will participate. As the first few months end, so does the excitement of the program and typically the programs visibility. In order for a company to accomplish the goals of reducing health care costs, and having healthier and more productive employees it needs to have employees that use the wellness program.

Wellness programs that have created a "Culture of Wellness" have kept the program visible to employees by having a plan in place to communicate the program on a monthly basis. This doesn't need to be labor intensive but needs to be promoted consistently by a person the company assigns to be their Wellness Champion. The Wellness Champion is the person who promotes the program to the rest of the employees; this person should be a person within the company's leadership team.

The Wellness Champion can reach out to the other employees by promoting the program with such tools as posters and flyers that highlight certain parts of the program.  These posters and flyers can address taking a Health Risk Assessment (HRA), setting up a fitness plan or tracking the foods they eat. These posters and flyers should be placed in areas that will be seen easily such as the employee break rooms or in high traffic areas.

The employee's should also receive monthly newsletters that also coordinate with the message being promoted each month. The monthly messages should be laid out in advance of rolling out the program in a systematic implementation guide. Having a different message each month will address the different needs and interests of each employee.

Reaching out to employees with incentive and reward programs has also assisted in creating the "Culture of Wellness". Companies that keep their reward programs visible and fresh continue to see significant increases in employee participation. I have seen companies that create and promote different wellness reward campaigns keep their employee excited all year long.

With the increase of social media sites over the past few years such as Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and other sites people are now communicating with each other about all different aspects of their lives. People like the idea of being connected with their friends, family and co-workers and finding out what is going on in their lives.

Staying connected and getting support is a critical success factor for employees to improve their health and attain their wellness goals. Social media tools allow members to communicate with people within their organization through blogs, message boards and member-created health groups as well as organize teams, group activities, and competition. Social media can be a powerful tool.

Social wellness media helps members and companies create member engagement towards building a focused and enduring wellness culture in the organization. There are solutions available to create the lasting "Culture of Wellness" and make a company's wellness program successful.

Companies need to embrace these new solutions as they move forward to achieving the real purpose of a wellness program, which is to help a person make choices that result in positive lifestyle changes and in overall well-being.

About the Author

With 20 years of experience in insurance and wellness, Scott Leavitt brings strong leadership to the role of Senior Vice President of Sales for Self Health Network. He has been quoted widely on health care, insurance and wellness. Scott was the 2008-2009 President of the National Association of Health Underwriters.

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