The U.S. Department of labor reports that about half of employers with at least 50 workers offer some kind of company-wide wellness program. Many of those businesses, though, cite employee engagement as their biggest challenge to success (source: ShapeUp). While social media can be a controversial topic in the workplace, it offers huge potential for community connection, and helps create the motivation your employees need to make healthier lifestyle decisions.
What are the benefits of a social wellness program?
- Healthier employees reduce insurance costs. Wellness initiatives can lower insurance premiums, medical costs, workers’ comp, and disability. In a new study, RAND researchers estimated that businesses helping members manage chronic illness saved $3.78 for each $1 spent.
- An active health program helps retain talent. When employees become empowered members of a healthy community, working toward positive lifestyle changes, they’ll feel better about themselves and the workplace, and stay around longer.
- Social interaction means greater investment. A social media community keeps employees involved for the long-term, and more engaged both in and out of the office. The recent RAND study also found a drop in absentees among businesses who encouraged online wellness incentives.
Aside from these practical benefits, social media also provides the motivation employees need to lose weight, quit smoking, or make other healthy decisions. It’s no secret that teams with similar goals are more likely to achieve them – it’s easier to visit the gym with a friend than it is to work out alone. Positive peer pressure is a great incentive for change, and the challenge and camaraderie of online communities will do more to boost wellness participation than posters, questionnaires, or even informational sessions.
So, how can businesses integrate social media as part of an active health and wellness program?
1. Post regular quizzes, trivia, Q&A sessions, and other fun educational tools. You can also share helpful resources to navigate screenings, ergonomics, and other health-related services provided through your business.
2. Promote events and activities. Keep employees in the loop about ways they can get actively involved, such as classes, news, team marathons, or online meet-ups. They can even subscribe to a calendar for the latest updates.
3. Hold friendly contests, such as who can lose the most weight or walk the furthest. The competition can be individual or team-based between departments (or even businesses). You can also create daily or weekly challenges in the office, where participants can share their results.
4. Try out third-party platforms for a more personalized experience. Third-party apps like FitBit or Keas are great ways to expand employee engagement with integrated sensors, devices, and biometric tracking – all with private access.
5. Create groups or boards. Wellness engagement needs to be long-term, so keep the dialogue going! Give your employees space to discuss health issues, share recipes, post updates, and more.
6. Offer discounts, congratulations, time off, or other rewards. Nothing encourages activity like a great return – so give plenty of public recognition to celebrate employees’ achievements and successes.
8. Share success stories. Workers are more likely to join the bandwagon if they can see what others have achieved by doing so. Plus, sharing personal accomplishments puts a positive emphasis on each employee’s strengths and potential.
9. Use your resources. If you’re not sure how to begin the wellness conversation on social media, recruit your top health advocates to get the ball rolling and manage network.
In short, social media networking brings a host of advantages to your health and wellness program that more traditional approaches simply don’t offer. With some creative incentives and careful management – including a clear use policy and well-defined privacy guidelines – the right network can transform your current workplace into an active, dynamic social community.
Learn more about positive wellness engagement in your business! Pulse Marketing Agency will be presenting a free seminar on Thursday, March 20, 2014, at the Spectacular Events Center in Bangor. Entitled Using Social Media to Promote Health and Wellness in the Workplace, our presentation is part of the 5th Annual Workplace Wellness Leadership Symposium. We hope to see you there!