Appropriate alt tag

Three tips to improve staff engagement in your next corporate wellness initiative

It has probably been months in the planning but finally your workplace health initiative is booked and ready to launch. But how do you kickstart staff engagement, get the whole office involved and ensure a worthwhile return on investment?

The answer isn’t rocket-science, but it does take a little forward planning and some careful consideration to maximise all the assets you have available. Employees can have a wary approach to initiatives which try to improve their health in the workplace, your job is to change that and showcase why it’s important.

With that in mind, grab your notepad and let’s dive straight into our top tips.

1. Keep it fun and focus on benefits not features

You’ve no doubt spent quite some time considering all the great features of your upcoming workplace wellness programme before you decided to purchase, so it can be tempting to inundate staff with all the details. But this often results in confusing and unmotivating internal comms. After all, why should they care?

Instead, adopt the classic sales mantra to sell the benefits and not the features. Take a step back, keep it simple and consider how the initiative will help them. What are the health benefits? Will it save them time? Will it give them brownie-points with their boss? Frame it as a must-have to improve their health.

At StepJockey, we also find it’s vital to focus your internal comms on digital channels, with a simple and concise call to action. Our resident employee engagement expert, Sophie Kempthorne says “the key is to allow 2 weeks before launch to send out emails to staff”. There’s often resistance to sending all-user emails but our experience really shows they work at engaging staff. Sophie continues: “make sure the email is short, with a great subject line and an obvious call to action”.

2. Clear, visible incentives

The research is clear, offering small randomised rewards for taking part in workplace health schemes really helps to boost participation and engagement. Prizes don’t need to have a huge financial value and can be something small such as a fruit basket delivered to their desk, a voucher to a local healthy deli or a sushi-making class. Often the more personal and thoughtful the better!

It’s important that prizes reward the whole staff cohort and not the already-fit 10% that will often take the top spot at the end of the programme. Instead, make prizes quasi-randomised by giving out spot prizes for passing milestones or achieving personal goals. During StepJockey Stair Climbing Challenges we issue weekly prizes to staff who have consistently used the stairs or made a significant improvement to their activity levels. Everyone should feel like they can win.

Once you’ve gone to the hard work of organising prizes, you need to ensure they’re clearly communicated to staff and they know how to win them. We often see organisers go to great length to source incredible prizes but then fall at the last hurdle as staff aren’t aware of them.

At StepJockey we distribute one key piece of comms before a challenge launches which solely focuses on the prizes that are up for grabs. If you’re issuing spot prizes every week, you could also send out a weekly email to staff telling them who has won and how to win next week’s prize. Why not make it more engaging by taking a picture of the winner with their prize and post it on the company intranet?

3. Get the boss involved

StepJockey is founded on the principles of behaviour economics and the powerful impacts of nine simple nudges. One of these nudges focuses on the power of 'norms' and the way in which our behaviour changes as we follow what others do. By starting at the top and getting your CEO or management team involved, it will have a trickle down effect and encourage others to follow suit.

If petitioning your management to help isn’t the easiest solution you could always start closer to home and encourage other departmental leaders to cheerlead your workplace health initiative to their own teams.

It may help to create a simple ‘cheat-sheet’ to summarise the programme in one page and answer any common questions. You can then circulate this to team leaders or health advocates within the business so they can easily pass on the message and motivate others to take part.

Launching a new health initiative to staff can often feel daunting and changing workplace culture is not easy, but often staff are keen to support a fresh, new initiative. The key is to nurture this support and use it to make the programme go viral across your organisation. Good luck, now let’s go and supercharge wellness in the workplace.

Got another tip to share? Tweet us and share your own advice and experiences.