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How to Ensure Your Well-Being Program is Relevant to a Global Population

Offering a well-being program to employees worldwide sends a powerful message to the entire organization that everyone’s well-being matters, regardless of where they work and live. But as with most things well-being, one size does not fit all. In this week’s blog, we share tips for ensuring your well-being program is relevant to a global population.

There’s no disputing that well-being programs deliver key benefits to companies—like greater engagement, a deeper sense of belonging, the potential for improved health, and greater productivity. Given these benefits, many companies today recognize the importance of extending well-being programs to employees across the globe. In fact, Business Group on Health’s May 2023 Employer Sponsored Health and Well-Being Survey found that about two-thirds of global employers have a globally consistent well-being strategy.

But don’t be mistaken—offering a well-being program to your global employees doesn’t mean you can simply copy and paste the well-being program you offer at headquarters. To truly make a global well-being program relevant and engaging, you must tailor it to the needs, preferences and customs of each location or region.

In the process of expanding WebMD Health Services’ global capabilities to over 190 countries across Europe, the Far East, and Latin America, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to make a well-being program culturally relevant. Here are some things to consider:

Listening and feedback.

Start by getting a feel for what global employees want in a well-being program. You can do a pulse survey, hold a town hall, or solicit input in team meetings. It’s also smart to collect any data you may have on usage and opinions of current well-being offerings, like Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). Be sure to report back to employees what you heard and how you’ll reflect their feedback in the program.

Cultural sensitivity and awareness.

A well-being program must understand and respect the cultural norms, values, and beliefs of diverse populations. For example, asking for mental health support is taboo in some cultures, so you may need to approach a topic like this carefully.

Pro-tip: Appoint wellness champions for each location or region. These individuals can serve as a sounding board to ensure cultural relevance.

Communication.

Frequent communication is essential for getting your global population engaged. But it’s crucial that the communication looks, feels and sounds like it’s intended for that location or region. For example, in the Middle East the color red signifies danger and caution , while in China red symbolizes good fortune and happiness. Likewise, images of women in workout clothing would not be appropriate in certain cultures. This is another area where your wellness champions can help.

Pro-tip: Storytelling is a great communication tactic for getting employees to engage with the well-being program. Enlist local employees to share stories of how they achieved their health goals.

Language accessibility.

English is the official language of business, but when it comes to well-being it’s best to communicate in the local language. You may be tempted to only use machine learning (ML) for this translation task, but human translators are important when dealing with clinical or health information that requires more nuance.

Customization and personalization.

The best global well-being solutions offer a high degree of customization and segmentation so that benefits are culturally relevant and appropriate. The last thing a global employee wants to see is a benefit or program that’s not available in their region. Also, because well-being is so personal, it’s key for global employees to be able to customize their experience based on their preferences, interests, and health goals.

Global health considerations.

Make sure your well-being program addresses the specific health challenges faced by different populations and offers resources and programs accordingly. This could include managing common infectious diseases or chronic conditions, and combatting taboos around mental health.

Workplace policies.

Review any workplace policies and procedures that may impede everyone’s ability to participate equally in wellness activities. For example, call center employees may find it hard to get more movement throughout the day; building in small breaks will allow these desk-based employees to participate in things like walking wellness challenges.

Leadership.

In order for a well-being program to succeed globally, local leadership needs to be on board. Create a briefing package for leaders or managers that outlines what the well-being program is, why it’s important, and the specific support you need from them. Also emphasize that leaders play a key role in modeling healthy behaviors, which gives employees “permission” to engage in those behaviors themselves.

Developing a well-being program that feels relevant to global employees and motivates them to engage with it isn’t easy, but it can be done. If you’d like help expanding well-being program access to your global populations, contact us at connect@webmd.net.


woman doing a home work-out as part of her well-being program

Free Resource: 5 Must-Haves for a Successful Well-Being Program

Want to know what it takes to create a top-notch, everyone’s-talking-about-it well-being program? One that not only keeps employees engaged, but will deliver real results, too? We’ve narrowed the list down to five must-haves.


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