3 Ways To Boost Participation In Your Wellbeing Program

“One third of Australian employees believe work has a negative impact on their wellbeing and one third rate work as not caring about employee wellbeing.”

Those shocking statistics were revealed in WorkScore’s “The 2019 Wellbeing Report.”

It’s even worse when we consider the negative effect this has on employee engagement and work performance. Organisations are suffering because their people feel unappreciated, undervalued and ignored.

Your message is not being heard.

As employers, you know how much you care about your people. You might even have put some wellbeing programs into place, but people won’t take them up if they think it’s a token effort on your part - or that the programs will benefit the organisation more than it does them. Another challenge we hear is that although organisations offer these great initiatives, people fear they will be judged for taking time out of their busy days to make the most of them.

When your people don’t think you care, they’ll resist everything because they’ll be suspicious of your motives. If you really care about their wellbeing and happiness, you’ll need to change the way you’re communicating with them.

If you’re going to the effort of creating a program, do it properly and get your people on board.

Three foundations for increased program uptake.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Involvement: The issue with many programs is that they are designed with no consultation or involvement with those who will use it. As leaders, we make assumptions about what people need and tell them they need to attend. It’s no wonder so many programs don’t achieve their intended goals.

Think about it. You have people who don’t trust your motives and who probably have no idea of what you’re really trying to do through the program. What’s the best way around that? Get them involved.

This is a great opportunity to listen to your people and show you’ve heard them. 96% of employees believe showing empathy is an important way to advance employee retention despite the strong link between empathy and engagement. Talk to your teams, listen to what they tell you. Ask for their ideas about the program as a solution. Not only will you have a program which better meets their needs, your people will have some ownership of it. They’ll understand your motivations for creating the course and have more trust in what you’re doing for them.

Participation: Communication means words and actions. Talking is not enough. Change starts at the top. You’re a leader and part of the team. You need to be part of the program. You can’t expect people to go where you’re not prepared to go, too. Your participation shows commitment to the program and to your team’s experience within it. More importantly, you’ll create common ground which is a clear channel for real conversations. What you do now will lay the foundation for uptake on future programs as well as the current one.

Conversation: Don’t underestimate the power of simple conversation in moving your people through change. Conversation reveals problems, uncovers solutions, and influences thought. It sets the rhythm of change. There needs to be plenty of opportunities, formal and informal, for face-to-face, two-way conversation. We’re humans and we’re social creatures so we love to chat. Yes, it seems time consuming right now, but it will reduce the time lost due to resistance and smooths the way to take-up. So be available to talk and make sure you monitor the results of your conversations so you’re sure the message is getting through. Healthy conversations build trust and show your authenticity. That’s what will keep your team open to change.

Now what?

People want to understand before they’ll take up a new program or accept change. They need support and guidance while they do it, and they need acknowledgement of their efforts. They want to be appreciated. The way you communicate directly impacts their acceptance or rejection of your program. Don’t wait until your program is designed and expect your team to take it up wholeheartedly. Start the conversation right from the beginning and the program will sell itself.

Written by Linda Murray Athena Coaching.