Employers looking to support a healthy workforce should view wellness offerings as more of a buffet than a one-course meal. Serving limited options to participants is not likely to be a popular solution, notes the head of a national wellness platform provider.
“If you really want to build a culture of health and well-being, you need to have the majority of people take part in it,” said Dinesh Sheth, CEO of Green Circle Health, a national wellness management service based in Pensacola Beach, Florida. “To get everyone to engage, there should be something for everyone.”
Competitive employees may thrive on team challenges that have departments, regions, or stores vying to walk a certain number of steps. Other workers may respond to financial incentives, while another group may succeed with health coaching.
“Some people react well to information, some react well to digital coaching, a lot of people still need live coaching,” Sheth added.
Don’t forget the family
There should also be room at the wellness buffet for an employee’s family. Workers trying to lose weight, eat healthier meals, or manage chronic disease often aren’t going solo; their health habits are typically linked to the behavior of other family members.
“We consider wellness to be a family sport,” said Sheth. “The whole family does it together.”
For example, a worker on a low-sodium diet is likely to need support from the family chef at mealtime. Another family member may need assistance with diabetes management.
In addition, family members can benefit by taking part in a company’s wellness challenges such as those involving walking, weight loss, or water consumption.
The importance of family support led Green Circle Health to offer broad access for users of its wellness platform. An employee with access to the Green Circle Health app also gets a license for four family members. All users can securely track and manage medical records, monitor healthcare data, and receive advice and support from trained clinicians.
Numbers, and more
While it is helpful for the employee to have data and support available, employers need to go slow when introducing a wellness management program, Sheth says. This gives workers time to get comfortable with tracking information and receiving wellness reminders and coaching advice.
And while the app gives participants a way to collect wellness information, data alone won’t change behavior, Sheth notes.
“If you just give them data, you are only adding to the stress level,” he said. “You need to think about how you work with people to make them change their habits.”
That means providing options and engaging employees in a way they find to be meaningful. This could be on an emotional, financial, or social level.
“There’s not a single thing that engages, you need to have 20 different tricks,” Sheth added. “There is not one silver bullet that will help everyone overnight.”
This article was featured in the Employee Health & Wellness Training Advisor newsletter.
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