Companies nationally struggle with participation in wellness programs. Only 24% of employees in organizations who offer a wellness program actually participate in it.1 What’s worse? Less than half of employees in the United States feel their work environment allowed them to maintain good health.2
Research by the Harvard Business Review found the top reasons employees that don’t participate in programs, even though they are interested, are: inconvenience, un-supportive company cultures, and trust and privacy concerns.3 These reasons may be easily addressed by developing a clearer understanding of what employees value and incorporating those values in your wellness program.
Employee engagement and workplace culture expert, Jason Lauritsen, challenges you to think differently about the “rules of engagement.” Pushing the boundaries, Jason recommends first thinking about times you’ve felt the most engaged to help you better understand what your employees might be feeling.
Take a moment to reflect back on your past job experiences.
Think about a time when you loved work or loved the work you were doing. Then think about a time when you were out of love with work. Now answer these questions:
- How did work make you feel?
- How would you describe your work?
- How did it spill over into your personal life?
Likely, the times that you truly enjoyed your work you felt supported, relaxed, energized, creative and motivated. You cared about the quality of your work, you felt inspired and worked really hard. And on top of that, when you went home to decompress you carried that positive energy along with you.
On the other hand, the times you had fallen out of love with work you might have felt drained, stressed, frustrated, trapped and maybe even a little depressed. You didn’t care as much about your work, it might have been poorer in quality and you might have been producing the bare minimum. In comparison, the energy that flowed home was negative and you might have even used your loved ones as outlets for voicing your work frustrations.
Engagement flows from how we FEEL about our work and our employer. When we feel good and have a sense of wellbeing, we do better work.
This exercise will help you gain insight into how your employees might be feeling and help you better address their issues moving forward. But how does this translate into implementation?
Through Jason’s work with Quantum Workplaces’ Best Places to Work program4, they found the Ingredients of a Best Place to Work were not the benefits and perks provided to its employees (though equally important to recruitment and employee retention) but Clarity, Connection, and Love.*
Creating clarity by reducing uncertainty.
Clarity is being certain or sure about something. But when we feel uncertain or have doubt, we start to assume the worst and fill in the gaps in our understanding to try to perceive what is going on around us. Imagine trekking through a forest hundreds of years ago on a hunt for food and hearing movement in the bush ahead. What would your instincts tell you? The rustling may have been from a cute bunny or fallen tree branch but your mind likely started preparing to encounter a mountain lion or creature that meant to harm you.
So how do we create clarity at work?
- Clear and Often Communication. Open communication reduces uncertainty and creates clarity. Communication (or lack thereof) is a constant barrier between leaders of any initiative and those tasked with participation or results. The key to successful communication by leaders is to make communication a two way street where employee feedback is considered, and to communicate as often as new information is learned, results are known, milestones are reached, etc.
- Tailor your message. How often have you opened your inbox to find dozens of promotional emails from retail companies and restaurants soliciting your business? There might be a few messages in there that stick but for the most part these messages aren’t personal to us so they end up in our Junk mail or the trash. Communicating a single message to the masses is effective only in rare circumstances – an emergency response alert for example. Instead, find ways to tailor your messages based on feedback from your employees. Is there a group that cares more about educational opportunities rather than physical wellness opportunities? Consider sharing more frequent reminders to that group about upcoming learn at lunches.
- Make ongoing feedback a part of your process. A huge part of encouraging constant engagement in an organizations’ wellness program is ensuring the programs meet the needs and interests of the employees. An efficient and cost effective way to gather meaningful feedback is to simply ask your employees either in a short survey or in passing as you walk down the hall. Focus groups are a great venue to narrow down a list of wellness topics and opportunities you’d like to ask in a broader survey. You may provide a list of questions or topics to a third-party to ask and ensure feedback is open and honest. Collecting employee feedback routinely (every 6 months) and acting on that feedback will create greater buy-in and engagement from employees and ensure your organizations wellness programs are meeting their needs.
Not sure where to start or looking for a template to help clarify what your employees need and expect from a wellness program? Download WELCOA’s Employee Needs and Interest Survey, recently updated for improved alignment with 7 Benchmarks™ for a Well Workplace and WELCOA’s Definition of Wellness. Use the template as a guide for creating your custom survey and take the first step towards creating clarity for your future wellness efforts.
Your next step towards a healthy workplace.
WELCOA’s Seven Benchmarks help guide you through the necessary steps for making wellness an important part of your worksite culture. This resource is a crucial part of Benchmark 3: Collecting Meaningful Data to Evolve a Wellness Strategy. If you have questions about maximizing your data collection efforts, contact email@example.com.
*The three ingredients to make a Best Place to Work are a part of Jason Lauritsen’s institute course, Using Wellness to Drive Employee Engagement. In this course, Jason Lauritsen sheds a light on this research and their methods of engaging employees.
- Gallup U.S. Panel Members
- John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- Harvard Business Review, Sean McManamy
- Huffington Post, Jason Lauritsen