How to get it right
Instead of taking part in the temporary fixes discussed in the previous article that could ultimately do more harm than good, take a look at a few positive and powerful techniques you can implement to make sure your health and wellness program flourishes.
Starting with the leaders
To have any program that’s successful, there needs to be buy-in from the top of the food chain. When the leaders of a company don’t participate in and support a program, there’s very little chance that it will last long-term.
Instead of looking for a quick fix for having a healthy work environment, consider also integrating health into the overall purpose and vision of the company.
It’s important to always lead by example, as you can’t expect your employees to emulate your healthy lifestyle if you don’t actually practice one. Discuss healthy lifestyle changes with your employees, encourage them along their journey, follow-up with their progress and put your own advice into practice in your daily life.
We’ve talked before about the importance of creating and maintaining an alluring company culture, and this can only be accomplished when it’s pursued with intention.
“It is first and foremost about creating a way of life in the workplace that integrates a total health model into every aspect of business practice, from company policies to everyday work activities,” the Harvard Business Review says online. “By ‘total health’ we mean a culture that’s supportive of career, emotional, financial, physical and social well-being – not just an occasional road race.”
The HBR says that creating this way of life can be achieved through offering flexible work hours, setting health goals that are reasonable and attainable, providing support socially, allowing employees to weigh in on making decisions, enforcing health-promoting policies and establishing an environment that’s physically healthy.
A healthy physical environment can be established by offering healthy food options in the breakroom and vending machines, having walking trails outside of the building, implementing treadmill workstations or encouraging employees to take the stairs instead of elevators.
While your landscaping crews are far more active than your office workers, they can be exposed to unhealthy stressors that can lead to injuries. Leading the crews in morning stretching and educating them on proper practices for tasks such as lifting heavy loads is also part of creating a healthy physical environment.
Ask for help and spread the word
As stated earlier, programs like these will only be successful if participants are buying into why it’s important. This only happens when employees understand how both they and the company benefit from it and when they know their opinions on the program matter.
This can be done by offering surveys or creating focus groups that can determine which aspects of the program are the most important to participants and which initiatives are a waste of time.
Other suggestions from the HBR are to establish wellness committees that can come up with different initiatives, and also consider including family members of your employees in the program to help foster a little friendly competition.
When communicated effectively and strategically, more engagement will happen in the program. It’s all about getting your messages out to the employees and making sure these messages are clear, informative and impactful. Communication initiatives like these help get the word out more effectively and boost interest by utilizing multiple communication platforms.
Whatever the final plan is with these forms of communication, they need to be frequent, have varying content, be tailored to your specific audience and be multi-channeled.
Smarter incentives and correct measurements
It’s not enough to just pay employees or tell them to make life-long changes and quit unhealthy habits, as this typically doesn’t work. However, offering more powerful, proper incentives has shown to drive up participation rates, increase employee engagement and motivate employees to make a more permanent change in their lifestyles.
The goal and overall challenge is to try and motivate employees to go from being just a participant to gain a reward and move to a place where these healthier habits are satisfying and rewarding to them personally, which will encourage them to continue them long-term.
It’s also important to understand the value of a program evaluation, as it is critical in maintaining accountability for a health and wellness program. To do this, the HBR suggests developing an evaluation plan at the very beginning of the program. This will serve as a baseline for data collection that can continue and be monitored over time.
When considering what aspects of the program are important to measure, the HBR had two suggestions.
“There are generally two answers: return on investment (ROI) and value of investment (VOI),” the HBR says online. “ROI in this context is generally limited to examining the tangible benefits of a program, such as a reduction in medical costs or absenteeism. Fortunately, a robust scientific literature review supports the conclusion that well-designed and well-executed programs can produce a positive ROI along with significant improvements in population health.”
Your landscaping company’s health and wellness plan doesn’t have to match that of a rival company or something you’ve seen on TV. What matters most is finding methods that you know will work for your company and your employees. Be specific when choosing a path for your business and make that choice as realistic as possible.
Look at the evidence and see what works and tailor that information to fit the people present in your company. It might not always be easy, but in time the rewards can be great for both your company as a whole and your individual employees.