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Well-Being in the Workplace: Preparing Employees for Change

For the last several weeks, we’ve been discussing the topic of change management and how you can leverage your well-being program to prepare employees for change. But what about when the change is the well-being program? In our final installment, we share tips for using change management principles to prepare employees for a new or updated well-being program. The goal? Employees will engage with and come to value your well-being program as an integral part of their personal well-being journey.

The introduction of a well-being program in an organization is a positive thing. But that doesn’t mean everyone will get on board right away. Sure, you’ll have early adopters who jump right in saying, “sign me up!” But there will also be people who are skeptical that they can really benefit from the well-being program, as well as those who are just not willing to engage. That’s why a carefully planned and executed rollout is so important.

Many of the change management principles that apply to other organizational changes are also helpful for a new or updated well-being program rollout: proper planning, support from leadership and change ambassadors, lots of communication, a great kickoff, and that all-important feedback loop. Let’s look at each of these tactics and how they can help prepare employees for a change in well-being programs and benefits.

Pre-launch planning.

As we shared in last week’s blog about adding a well-being program to the workplace, perhaps the most essential step in a well-being program implementation—and any change, really—is to articulate the goals and outcomes you want for employees and the organization. For example, you may want to improve employee engagement, create a culture of well-being, boost employee health, save money on healthcare, or be able to attract new talent with robust well-being benefits. Whatever you decide, ensure that the goals align with your organization’s core values and beliefs.

It’s also important to identify a clear “why” and “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM). Employees will want to know the reasons for launching the well-being program and how they’ll benefit. The goals, the why, and the WIIFM will all feature prominently in your launch communications and help employees connect the dots between wellness and change.

As you get closer to launch, it’s time to map out a detailed plan that shows all the activities and key communications that will take place before the launch, the day of the launch, and in the days and weeks after the launch. We recommend planning a full year’s worth of events, programming, and engaging opportunities right at the outset.

Leadership engagement.

Like other change initiatives, a well-being program launch needs to engage leadership at all levels—from middle management to senior leadership. Over the years, I’ve learned that one of the key reasons why some workplace wellness programs are successful—and others are not—is that the company’s leadership walks the talk and demonstrates to employees that they are on board.

When it comes to well-being, I feel strongly that business leaders should always try to lead by example, because it helps team members know that they have your full support to take care of themselves. Some things you can do include:

  • Have leaders promote the well-being program at all-employee town halls.
  • Lead a fitness walk.
  • Introduce a well-being Lunch & Learn or webinar.
  • Create a well-being program launch video.
  • Show that you value well-being by reminding people to use their PTO and other benefits.

Wellness ambassadors.

Are there people in your organization who are passionate about health and well-being? Enlist them to become wellness champions who can be the face of the program and support employees during change. Make them visible by giving them special launch t-shirts so everyone knows who they are. Supply them with flyers they can share with their peers to get them excited about participating. HR team members can also serve as wellness ambassadors at launch and on an ongoing basis. Finally, if your program has dedicated well-being staff, like coaches, program managers, or coordinators, make sure people know where to find them onsite or online, and talk up the specific services they provide.


I sometimes feel like a broken record when I talk about communication. Still, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to help employees deal with change and, ultimately, the very success of the well-being program. We have learned through countless implementations that it’s essential to communicate early and often.

  • Before launch, get people excited with “it’s coming” messages and a preview of all the great programs they’ll be able to take advantage of. It’s also an excellent time to head off common concerns people tend to have, like whether the information they share with the well-being partner is confidential and how your organization will never see data on specific individuals.
  • During launch, the communications should be high-energy and use multiple channels to reach people: webinars, email, workplace social media posts, and eye-catching digital and in-person promotions. It also helps to offer a small token to each employee to commemorate the launch—like gift boxes, water bottles, lanyards, or other wellness merch.
  • After launch, the communication can’t stop. Employees need to hear about well-being regularly to continue to engage with the program. Here’s where you might use monitor ads, flyers, table tents, posters, e-cards, Slack channels, and even home mailers.

One more tip: Take lots of photos at launch that you can use later to keep up the excitement. Collect stories and testimonials from participants who’ve been positively impacted by the program and share them, along with photos, on workplace social media. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, a story a million!


The best advice we have for kicking off a well-being program is to make it fun and easy for people to get started. Don’t add a ton of stress or requirements to participate. If you can, host an in-person kickoff event with information about the program, giveaways, raffle prizes, and, most importantly, good energy! Virtual kickoffs work, too—they just take a bit more planning and nudging to make people aware.

We’ve also found that launches are most successful when there is a call-to-action—something people can do right away to get engaged. That might be taking a health assessment, getting biometric screenings, attending a webinar, or meeting with a health coach. In addition, this initial point of access to the WebMD ONE platform allows participants to take a peek at other offerings to improve their overall health and well-being.

Wellness challenges are another great way to make a splash at launch, and the possibilities are endless: walking challenges, like our popular Invitational Team Steps Challenge; water intake; nutrition; sleep; meditation/mindfulness. For example, one of our clients, EMI Health, leveraged a popular hiking challenge to re-invigorate their well-being program when they switched to WebMD ONE. Volunteerism, sustainability, and social justice have also become popular challenges with several of our clients.

In closing, I would say that the success of a well-being program ultimately hinges on meeting employees wherever they are on their personal well-being journey. It may not be right at launch, and that’s ok. However, by continually communicating about the program and providing different opportunities to engage, you’ll eventually start to see participation tick up. And finally, at some point, make sure to ask employees what they think about the well-being program. Act on that feedback, and don’t be afraid to adjust your approach. If you’d like some help planning your well-being program launch, visit our website or contact us at connect@webmd.net.

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