Identifying Stages of Readiness for Implementing a Workplace Health Program April 16th, 2010, by Ken Buckley

It is important to remember that the main driver behind positive ROI on corporate health programs is CHANGE.

Well grounded behaviour change strategies are always at the heart of lasting health and wellness improvements, providing increased productivity and health risk reduction in the long term.

Workplace Health Program

A best practice workplace health program should always ensure that health initiatives accurately meet the needs of employees and support the participation of the entire organisation.

The thing is, not every employee feels ready to dive in at the deep end, so the designers of health initiatives need to consider a range of stages of readiness for making real, long term healthy behaviour change.

Based on Dr James O. Prochaska’s Transtheoretical Model of Change, the Stages of Readiness for Change Model below helps to tailor interventions to each participant’s level of readiness, and support them as they progress through it and into the next stage.

The 5 Stages of Readiness to Change

• The Pre-Contemplator – At the ‘pre-contemplation’ stage, the person has not even considered making changes to improve their health and wellbeing, with no intention of making any changes.

• Contemplator – At this stage, the ‘contemplator’ has thought about making some positive changes to improve their health but is putting it off, considering they might start someday but are not ready yet for various reasons.

• Preparation – A person at the ‘preparation’ stage has thought about the positive changes they would like to make and intends to begin within the next 30 days.

• Action – Someone in the ‘action’ stage has already begun making positive changes to improve their health within the last 6 months.

• Maintenance – In the ‘maintenance’ phase, the person has sustained their positive changes for more than 6 months with the intention of keeping them for long term wellness benefits.

Too often, corporate health programs target their initiatives at the minority of employees already in the latter ‘preparation’ through to ‘maintenance’ stages, without enough focus on the individuals who stand to benefit significantly but require more preparative support.

A stage-based change model determines stages of readiness during the assessment period and delivers interventions aligned to each relevant phase. For instance, someone who has only just begun contemplating exercise will have a very difference experience participating in a fun run to that of a seasoned jogger.

Support and education needs to be given to those who are not quite ready for immediate action, and congratulations and encouragement given to those already maintaining healthy behaviours.

Many individuals will cross over into different stages according to the risk behaviour (e.g. the healthy eater who is also a smoker) so a variety of initiatives pitched at different levels need to be devised and appropriately implemented to improve the long term health of each individual and thus the organisation as a whole.

For more information on implementing a  workplace health program at your workplace contact Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90 (International: IDD 61-2-9954-1888 ) and be sure to quote: “post201” for eligibility of Healthworks latest online offers and Corporate Health initiatives.

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