Why wellness should be a year-long resolution

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Many organizations renew their pledge toward greater emotional health and well-being for their teams with the beginning of a new year. While it’s great to focus organizational goodwill around the beginning of a new year, our experience working with large corporate clients and more than 3 million individuals points to a few key components which are critical for your program’s success.

See also: 2017 New Year’s resolutions for HR

In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in organizational awareness of the importance of once-overlooked areas such as workforce resilience, grit and overall emotional health and well-being.

From Google’s mindfulness training program to Aetna’s CEO-sponsored health-and-healing initiative, more employers are recognizing that the investments made in their team’s emotional health yield good returns. Greater workplace emotional well-being has been shown to reduce healthcare costs, increase productivity, lower turnover levels and even increase profitability.

And as is the case with other types of successful wellness initiatives, it’s important for benefits managers to take a year-long approach when planning how their emotional wellness program can address anxiety and stress whenever they happen to occur. Here’s why:

Seasonal stressors
Surviving tax season, gearing up for the back-to-school rush, making it through the holidays —certain times of year are prone to elevate your team’s levels of stress and anxiety.

Personal stressors
On an individual level, a perfectly happy team member may hit a personal bump at any point throughout the year, and while they may have shrugged off the prospect of checking out your wellness initiative last month, they may be in need of concrete assistance this month.

Company stressors
The workplace environment has a significant impact on your employees’ emotional well-being. Common operational activities such as budgeting, performance reviews and company reorganizations can be identified as direct sources of stress and anxiety that need to be taken into account.

So what are the ingredients of a great emotional well-being plan? Here some of the highlights:

Organize a momentum-building event for an effective launch
Done well, the initial launch of your program will get it off the ground and set the tone for subsequent promotional efforts. In addition to introductory corporate communications, we found that having a momentum-building event can be very effective in raising the profile of your launch. On-site expert guest speakers can do a great job in delivering the critical high-level message points as well as real-world nuggets of advice, all in a highly engaging way. Giving your team access to leading experts such as Shawn Achor, Harvard researcher on workplace positivity and best-selling author of “The Happiness Advantage,” has a dramatic inspirational and educational effect. These events can be live-streamed throughout the organization and recorded for team members who cannot attend the event.

Sustain your momentum
A wide array of subsequent activities that have proven effective in other domains of wellness include awareness-raising health fairs, team challenges and online webinars —whatever you choose, including these kinds of components throughout the year ensures they’ll be easy to access whenever team members need them.

Seek the right digital tools
Consumer technology is advancing by the day, and with it comes a variety of digital tools that can help make your emotional health program more engaging and effective. Apart from making sure you work with an evidence-based service, two of the most important aspects of picking the right tool are the levels of engagement it can deliver and the breadth of content and programming it offers as a platform. For example, Happify’s solutions platform places strong emphasis on engagement and outcomes in areas like resilience and mindfulness, and has an ever-growing catalog of interactive programs from various domains of psychological science.

Don’t underestimate the power of grassroots communications
Every organization is unique in its culture, and what fits one does not necessarily fit the other. Make sure you understand the types of issues your team is interested in ahead of an initiative, and collect feedback following its deployment. One of the effective ways to achieve this is by cultivating a group of wellness coordinators from enthusiasts within the staff.

Focus on frequent outreach
The way to achieve a meaningful impact from your emotional wellness program is by sustained communications, especially given the ‘digital noise’ that is present in today’s environment. Our experience shows that there are multiple seasonal calendar dates where these are most effective. In addition, due to situational stressors, bringing the offering to people’s awareness at least every 6-8 weeks is key.

Measure your progress regularly
Tracking key metrics of activation, engagement and outcome will allow you to measure the overall ROI for the program, as well as make informed decisions as you iterate and optimize adoption. This is another area where integrated digital tools, with their real-time dashboards and ability to analyze trends, can be instrumental.

By better understanding how to keep employees engaged throughout the year, benefits managers can channel the excitement around a New Year’s resolution to achieve their corporate wellness goal, into a year-long emotional wellness program that can truly make a difference in the lives of individuals and the organization as a whole.

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Wellness programs Wellness Health and wellness Employee engagement Employee communications