Behavior change is the key to reducing health risks, reducing the prevalence of chronic disease, and reducing employee related expenses.
The return on investment (ROI) related to employee wellness programs typically includes the overall health care cost-savings achieved, as well as productivity increases due to a reduction in sick days taken by employees. Calculating the ROI based on the hard savings numbers provides most companies with the justification for implementing such programs.
We are all familiar with the first step in the behavior change process. This is the easy part of wellness.
Each of these wellness initiatives can educate individuals and make them aware of good health practices. They help us understand what health risks are and what it really means to have an elevated health risk. They help us learn whether or not we have elevated health risks or unhealthy behaviors.
In order to change an unhealthy behavior you must first identify unhealthy behaviors.
Successful wellness programs encourage employees to participate in a variety of health promoting activities. The use of incentives is just one strategy that can be used to motivate employees. All of us have been able to change our behaviors at one time or another. We change behaviors constantly and some of those behaviors become daily habits. The goal is always for the positive change to become a daily habit. Think about the last major behavior change you implemented. What motivated you to change that behavior? Why did you do it?
We change behaviors for a lot of reasons. Peer pressure, love, the desire for something better, fear,and just wanting to improve our lives can provide ample motivation to change.
This is the “how” of behavior change. It is one of the most important aspects of successful behavior change, and it is the one that is perhaps neglected the most by people. All of the assessments and screens are great at helping people realize their current health risks. However, unless those assessments and screens help people with the skills and tools they need to reduce their elevated health risks, the assessments and screens won’t do much to improve employee health. As wellness professionals we will show the employee exactly how to change their behavior. We need to show them how to overcome the barriers that are preventing them from living healthy lives.
This is the most important one – the one that makes the biggest impact. It’s not just about changing the culture and environment, it’s about altering policies at work, creating social support, and changing the physical environment. It’s the most important because it has the largest impact long-term on helping people have healthy behaviors. Strict policies are not necessarily the solution to having a successful wellness program, but carefully crafted and supportive policies are. Creating health-promoting policies and environments at work is something employees can participate in. We will assist your wellness committee in how to create a healthy culture and environment at work.
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