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Tried and True Wellness Communication Strategies

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We are always looking for the next best practice approach to help our organizations accomplish their wellness goals and corral health care costs; the silver bullet for good health and cost management. What can we do to help employees make a commitment to health improvement and actually stick with it!  

But, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, maybe you don’t have to look beyond your own backyard.

The tried and true principles of effective communication apply to wellness programs, as they do to all other types of communication. Here are some basic communication strategies to consider for your 2012 wellness communication plan:

Brand your wellness program: It’s tough to get anyone’s attention in our media-saturated culture. Branding your wellness program—with a creative and fun theme, a logo, templates, user-friendly content organization—can snap your employees to attention and help you get your message across.

Involve employees: Get employees involved in the communication process. They can help with strategic planning, as well as provide valuable input on the actual communications. Use focus groups, create local wellness committees, ask for feedback, send surveys. Target your outreach so that you get representative input.

Use senior leaders as champions: It has been proven that strong and visible leadership involvement in wellness campaigns improves employee engagement and results.

Communicate year around: Changing a behavior is difficult, even when you’re on board and want to make a lifestyle improvement. Year-round, targeted messaging and promotion will keep healthy living top-of-mind. You need to repeat and reinforce what you say, in different ways, using a variety of media to bring about lasting behavior change.

Make it easy: Your efforts to make it quick and easy to sign up for wellness programs (e.g., desktop wellness invitation and booking of appointments/events/screenings, etc.) and access wellness information and resources will pay off. Create a desktop application where employees can view wellness events and sign up for meetings, health screenings and appointments.

Embed wellness in your culture: Employees should see and hear reminders of health and wellness everywhere they go at work. Create a smoke-free work environment, offer healthy food options in cafeterias and vending machines, review policies and work practices to create a safe environment, include wellness as a regular topic at management meetings, provide healthy food at company gatherings and meetings.

Use your creative power and tap your employees’ ingenuity to come up with ideas to get your employee’s attention and pave a yellow brick road to health and wellness.