8 ways to make your wellness strategy more effective
So you've launched a wellness programme. Now YuLife’s Head of Wellbeing and Engagement, David Sherman, explains how to maintain momentum, boost return on investment, and make your strategy a success.
Yugi the Giraffe - 5 July 2022
In 2022, most organisations have a strategy for employee wellness. But all too often, these programmes fail to engage with staff, or to make any real difference in their lives.
So once you've launched your wellness strategy, how do you take it over the finish line, and make it a true success for both your workers and your organisation as a whole?
David Sherman, Head of Wellbeing and Engagement at YuLife, recently gave a talk as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, and offered some invaluable insider advice for anyone working in this area.
We've already shared his tips on building a wellness strategy from scratch. Now, we'll look at David's advice on evolving your wellness programme and making it more effective once it's in place.
1. Invest time and money
Putting a wellbeing strategy in place is not a ‘one and done’ task. Instead, it's best to start small and build up your programme steadily. And that means being prepared to dedicate a certain level of resources to wellbeing.
"If you're truly committed to this as an organisation, ask how much you're willing to actually invest in it," says David. "And that's not just in terms of money, but time and effort as well."
In answering this question, remember that you're not pouring resources into a black hole: a successful wellness strategy will produce tangible benefits for the organisation. "You'll see a return on investment in terms of making your people happier, healthier, more engaged, and more productive," David points out.
It will also help you attract new employees. "If people feel supported, safe and cared for, employee turnover is likely to reduce drastically," David notes. "That will flow down to the business, and the bottom line. But the most important thing is that investment of time and energy, to keep this going, and show your people you're building a culture of wellbeing."
2. Boost your return on investment
How do you maximise the return on investment for your wellness strategy? In David's view, making a big splash with a grand and expensive programme isn't always the best approach.
"Sometimes less can be more," argues David. "You don't have to provide 10 different wellbeing solutions to your employees, and you don't have to tick every box to start with. It's better, if possible, to keep things simple."
3. Design around the individual
Keeping things simple is most crucial when it comes to the messaging around your wellness strategy. "If you can make that really clear, you'll get more employees engaging with it, and feeling the value," David explains.
Also think about how your messaging is delivered, he adds. "In the modern world, employees typically access information via technology such as phone apps. So it's worth considering how best to reach people where they are."
In other words, rather than making everything top-down, you should pursue a consumer-style focus, and look for solutions and benefits that are designed more around the individual, rather than the organisation. "Because if employees feel that your wellness strategy is personal to them, and they can engage with it on a one-to-one level," says David, "they'll be more likely to keep it on their phone, and use it regularly, than if it comes across more as a corporate tool and a corporate benefit."
4. Maintain momentum
When wellness strategies are launched to huge fanfare, you normally see an initial spike of enthusiasm amongst employees. But often, those levels of engagement will then drop off a cliff.
It's vital that you work pro-actively to maintain momentum. And that comes down to communicating, not just effectively, but regularly. "You cannot over communicate when it comes to your wellbeing programme and strategy," stresses David. "The more you talk about it, the more you communicate, the more people will tend to use it."
5. Create a calendar of promotions
One specific way to maintain momentum is to create a calendar of promotions you want to talk about each month, David suggests. "For instance, you could tie in to charity campaigns and national events," he says. "The important thing, though, is to make it relevant to your people and to your business. The more relevant it is, the more successful it will be."
6. Regular assessment
Even if you're doing everything right, your wellbeing strategy isn't likely to work perfectly from the outset; it needs to evolve. And so it will only become truly effective if you keep going back and checking what's working, what isn't, and what needs improvement.
"Regular assessment is key," stresses David. "You need to assess how your people are responding to your wellbeing programme. Are they aware of it? Are they utilising it? If you're offering any benefits, look at take-up. Ask for reports. Seek out engagement stats. Look for user case studies.
For example, if you hear from employees how they used a particular benefit and found it beneficial, maybe ask if they're happy to share their story as an internal case study. "Once other employees hear how someone they know has used a benefit, they'll be much more inclined to do so themselves."
7. Build a culture of wellbeing
Regularly meeting and engaging with the different benefit providers involved in your wellbeing scheme couldn't be more important. And you shouldn't be shy of doing so. As David points out: "If you're paying for a benefit, that provider should be there to support you on that journey; to help you launch, and help you maintain ongoing communications."
It can take time to build this culture, though, and your staff need to feel this isn't just a short-term fix, but a long-term journey they're going on. "So make sure you're regularly talking to employees too, as well as line managers. Seek to understand how they're engaging with the wellbeing programme, collect that feedback, and keep moving on."
The key to a successful programme, in short, lies in everyone in the organisation getting involved. "Wellbeing shouldn't just sit with one person, and it shouldn't just sit with HR either," stresses David. "Everyone collectively should look after wellbeing, and you should look to build internal champions for wellbeing that sit in different departments, different areas of the business. You could also look to create some focus groups with certain individuals, gain that feedback, and get them to drive the energy and the focus around this."
8. Be holistic
David's final tip is that any wellbeing programme has to be approached holistically, or it just won't work. "That means you need to address the mental, physical, financial and social side of things," he says.
Why? "Wellbeing is tied together, whether we like it or not," explains David. "Mental health issues don't just impact mental health, they also have knock-on effects on things like finances and physical health. For example, someone could start with a financial issue, that could lead to mental strain, that could lead to poor sleep and unhealthy diet, and so on."
Once you've launched your employee wellbeing programme, don't make the common mistake of stepping back and letting the initial burst of activity decline into apathy. Instead, it's vital to maintain momentum by communicating regularly, creating new promotions to drive original discussions, and keeping everything relevant to your specific workforce and business.
Invest time, money and energy into making your programme a success, look for easy wins to maximise return on investment, and take a holistic approach that sees all wellbeing issues as interconnected.
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