Practical Advice for Improving Your Employee Wellness Program
How is your company employee wellness program going? If you’re looking for ways to increase your impact and improve the employee experience, we have some practical advice and things to consider for bringing about effective, positive change in your employees’ lives. A simple Google search can turn up a variety of statistics on employee wellness programs and how they’re typically structured, but an effective wellness program is more than statistics. A key component of any program is including a nationally-accredited and board-certified health and wellness coach.
First, let’s dispel some misconceptions.
Because employee wellness programs are touted as ways for employers to save on health care expenses or improve worker productivity, it’s easy to think that “wellness” in this scenario refers to data points like cholesterol levels or helping diabetics manage their daily needs on the job. In truth, employee wellness is so much more robust. All aspects of a person’s life come into play, from spiritual and financial wellness to physical fitness, sleep and nutrition.
Providing resources for employees to create meaningful differences in their lives not only helps keep them stay engaged with their work and foster stronger company loyalty, but also spills over into their personal lives, giving the potential for more grounded wellbeing.
Employee wellness isn’t just for high-risk employees either, such as those considered morbidly obese or battling other chronic disease that impacts performance and quality of life. Those employees do exist, and will definitely benefit from coaching, but they make up a small percentage. The majority of employee participants won’t be defined as “high-risk” by an insurance company. Their goals may be less dramatic but will still be important to their overall health. They may want to improve their relationships, work-life balance, or even just fine-tune their diet. Regardless, good coaching can help them achieve these goals and so much more.
Tenets of a good wellness program.
The most important part of an employee wellness program is the coaching. Coaches are the human element. Coaches have the compassion, empathy, patience, and reliability to help employees tackle the areas that need help. You can certainly get your blood drawn, have your cholesterol checked, and receive some guidelines about lowering it. But that’s almost a mechanical transaction. A health and wellness coach looks at the entire picture of your wellbeing, beyond a cholesterol number and into the habits and behaviors that can help you make sustainable changes.
It’s also worthy to note that wellness should never be approached by a company as a means to save money, but instead to create a healthier population among the employee base. Most people fall short in some area of wellness, whether it’s spiritual, emotional, physical, etc. That shortfall may not be considered “high risk,” but everyone needs some kind of help, so it’s important for wellness programs to encompass more than just the physical health of employees.
How a nationally-accredited, board-certified coach can enhance your program:
- Helping to build trust. Everyone may not want to open up immediately. Employees may feel pushed into the relationship by a coworker, a manager, a company directive, or the benefit of an insurance premium credit. That’s okay. Good coaches are consistently respectful and patient, and that relationship-building yields progress.
- Coaches never judge. Some employees may initially only talk about what they think the coach wants to hear. They may avoid conflict over not meeting a goal by fudging a little in conversation, but coaches are experts at letting the employees guide where they want to go. Over time, the trust and confidence will grow and you’ll start to see a pattern that’s useful.
- They turn resistance into cooperation. If an employee continues to be resistant at first, coaches are trained to use patience, nonjudgment, and persistence to build personal connections and turn that resistance into cooperation. Their consistent behavior reinforces the relationship as a safe and positive place, where good change can happen.
- They’re there when the going gets tough. There will be times that an employee will hope that a coach doesn’t remember something they said they’d like to work on, so that they can ignore an area that needs changing. But coaches are there to guide and encourage them along the way, even when it’s tough. Sometimes, that encouragement comes by reminding them of their goals and the steps they planned to take.
- They make big change manageable. It’s important to remember that significant change doesn’t happen overnight. An obese person can’t lose 50lbs. in a week, just like an unhealthy family dynamic can’t be resolved in an afternoon. Coaches help employees set smaller goals so they can see small wins, which add up to bigger wins over time.
- They create accountability. Coaches help employees set goals for each month and come up with a plan to follow through. Then rinse and repeat. (Here’s where that all that patient note-taking and those baby-steps help smooth the path for your employees.)
- They can integrate your company initiatives. If there’s a company 5k coming up or access to a personal financial advisor, for example, you can work with the coach to provide more well-rounded coaching to accomplish wins for the company and the employee.
- They know what it’s like to be coached. Through their extensive training, certified coaches know how it feels to be coached, which helps them provide a genuine, whole-person approach that treats every employee as an individual.
- They see past job title. Whether it’s the CEO, the HR director or a low-level assistant, certified coaches ascend above job title by treating people as people. Everyone has areas that need improvement to become the best version of themselves.
- Finally, they know that wellness is not information that becomes application. Coaches don’t just hand a person a list of their shortcomings, a plan of action, and then set them on their way with a big smile. Coaching is personal and connected and deepens over time. Coaches help employees create behaviors which become habits, which become change. That change makes all the difference.