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Why is engaging employees on wellness so hard?

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Posted April 24, 2012 by Helen Box-Farnen at 09:16AM. Comments (21)

Employee engagement is the goal of just about every wellness and health management program. You need to engage employees to be more active, eat better, get more sleep.  … You get the idea.

So why is engaging employees so hard? Maybe it’s because we haven’t really thought about it from the perspective of the employee – the end-user of the wellness initiative. According to research from a partnership of Aon Hewitt and The Futures Company, most people fall into discrete attitudinal segments that influence how they think and feel about wellness.

The folks in the C-Suite and most in leadership fall into a category that embraces a sense of control and responsibility when it comes to their health. And, they see wellness as part of the solution to important business problems: lowering costs and increasing productivity.

The average worker, on the other hand, has a completely different mindset. Here are a few of the attitudes that define nearly half of the U.S. population:

  • Time-starved
  • Seeks entertainment
  • Family-oriented
  • Stressed
  • Likes high-tech media and social networking
  • Interested in group activities and competition
  • Wants to look and feel good
  • Wants recognition for their accomplishments
  • Trusts friends and family as information sources

In addition, while you might appreciate a lot of detail, the people you need to engage are not information-junkies. Try this approach with your clients and see if it doesn’t engage more of their workforce:

  • Make it entertaining and create some buzz: To get employees’ attention, it needs to be fun, hip, humorous, and exciting.
  • Appeal to what’s important to me:Tell employees how it will help them look good, feel good, and be more confident.
  • Make it easy: Today’s workers are stressed and starved for time, so it needs to be simple and uncomplicated.
  • Make me feel part of a community: Family and friends are important, and people like to feel connected to others.

Whether you are advising a client about products and services that will help them engage employees in wellness behaviors or you’re a benefits executive needing to achieve business objectives through improved health, wellness, and benefits consumerism, being successful might mean stepping outside of your own attitudes. Instead of approaching wellness as a way to solve the company’s issues – sell it to employees as a way to solve their issues. In other words, if you make it about them, you might just get what you need.

Box-Farnen is a communications consultant in Aon Hewitt’s Baltimore office. She can be reached at helen.box-farnen@aonhewitt.com.

 

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