Some organizations may have really great well-being programs, but they still don’t see the engagement and results they’d like. Oftentimes, it’s not the program that’s lacking—it’s that there’s no good communication strategy in place to get their populations excited about participating. In this week’s blog, we share ways you can improve employee wellness communications to set your well-being program up for success.
Pay attention to basic communication principles.
As you begin to plan out your communication strategy, keep these best practices in mind:
Consider how employees want to receive information.
Listening should be the first step in the development of any communication strategy. How do people in the organization like to get information—emails, town halls, intranet sites, directly from their managers? Have preferences shifted as a result of a younger workforce demographic? How has the pandemic changed the way employees want to receive communication? Maybe remote workers want their families to be included in well-being conversations, too. Find out what your population prefers using quick polls or pulse surveys.
Nix the jargon and corporate-speak.
If you’re in benefits or corporate wellness, you probably use certain words and phrases that seem second-nature to you—like biometric screenings or utilization. Trust us when we say that employees tend to stop reading when they come across words like that. Use simple, clear language and break down technical jargon into everyday terms. Better yet, enlist the support of a professional communicator who isn’t so steeped in wellness lingo to help deliver messages that make your people excited to participate.
Communicate with purpose.
What do you want staff to get out of your employee wellness program? What actions do you want them to take? Make sure the “what’s in it for me” and call-to-action are stated right upfront. With so many things competing for our attention these days, employees appreciate short, simple, “snackable” messages. For those who want more detail, provide links or drop-down content. And make sure your headlines and email subject lines are engaging—“you” and “how to” always get the clicks.1
People often make decisions and take action based on what others they know and trust are doing. Make sure the following groups are well-equipped to spread the word on well-being:
Ask wellness champions to talk about upcoming well-being activities at staff meetings and town halls. Encourage them to use workplace social media to post about well-being offerings and invite them to include a wellness message in their email signature. Wellness champions can rally the organization before and during wellness challenges, providing the motivation to join and keep up the effort.
Leaders play a key role in creating a culture of well-being in any organization. When leaders model healthy behaviors and talk about them, employees feel more empowered to care for themselves. CEO chats, town hall remarks, and video testimonials all do the trick.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).
ERGs are groups of people in the workplace who share a certain characteristic—like gender, ethnicity, lifestyle, or interest. ERG members can be great ambassadors for a well-being program, so be sure to tap into their regular meetings and instant-messaging channels with promotions about events and offerings.
Build your communication plan.
As you set out to build the elements of your communication plan, ask yourself these questions:
- Where do people work? Is your culture office-based, fully remote, or hybrid? Do you have employees who don’t sit at a desk? These will affect the elements you choose for your campaign.
- What existing channels can you leverage? Do you have data to show how well-utilized they are? Think email open rates and intranet clicks.
- Are there new communication vehicles you’d like to create? For example, podcasts are an increasingly popular way to serve up wellness information. One of our clients uses podcasts to speak to their population about their specific well-being program. People can access the podcasts in times and places that make the most sense for them.
- What about those small, but impactful, ways to “surround the employee” in messaging—plasma screens in hallways and elevators, mirror clings in the bathroom, tent cards and posters in breakrooms?
- Can you incorporate storytelling into your strategy? Humans are hard-wired to appreciate stories—and when they’re told well, they tend to stick. Videos spotlighting well-being success stories from employees and senior leaders are powerful.
- How can you make it easy for people to engage with your well-being program? Include direct links to program offerings so employees can act right away if something piques their interest.
- Have you considered print? An eye-catching piece mailed to employees’ homes is a great way to promote upcoming wellness challenges and get family members involved, too. If your budget allows, consider sending a well-being box that’s full of items to help them work on their well-being—branded water bottles, a print-out of desk stretches, a healthy recipe book, a journal and pen, and calming teas can be valuable additions!
The top well-being messages to communicate right now.
Most of your messages will be focused on what you want employees to know and do when it comes to well-being. But to keep it interesting, pepper in content that feels current and new. Some of the hot topics we’re currently seeing include:
- Financial wellness
- How small steps can build new healthy habits
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Mental health in the workplace
- Stress and burnout
- Supporting employee well-being as we return to the office
- Tips for getting back into the groove of socializing
Keep a steady drumbeat of communication.
Workplace wellness communications can’t be just one and done. People need to receive communications about well-being benefits numerous times and in different ways for messages to stick. Remember to stay excited about your well-being program, because if you’re not talking about it often, your people won’t be motivated or excited to try it out. And once they start participating more, you’ll see better engagement, resulting in tangible improvement in your population’s health, happiness, and overall wellness.