A guide for workplace health and wellness coordinators October 5th, 2012, by Ken Buckley

If you’re the Coordinator of your workplace health and wellness program, you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed, both by the amazing opportunities, and by the responsibility of it all. Afterall, this is still a fairy groundbreaking role – while OHS and WHS has been around for a good long time, the idea of “health and wellness” as a core part of day-to-day business is still reasonably new.

You’ll be asking people to give up their time, their old habits, and for some, their fears, to make real personal changes to their health and lifestyle. The impact you can make on people’s lives will be phenomenal, but it’s going to take some smart thinking.

If only there was a guide to show you what you need and how to do it. If only someone had looked at all the most successful workplace health programs around the world, and identified the attributes and actions of successful Coordinators.

Well, there is and we have.

Healthworks is working in partnership with two international experts on workplace health and behavior change, Dr. Steven Aldana andDr. Troy Adams.  Drawing from their decades of research and practice, we’ve developed some guidelines for Health and Wellness Coordinators.  Here’s a summary.

[This guide is part of our series of blogs on how to run a successful health and wellness program. To recap – we’re currently looking in detail at the first step of starting a new program: “Prepare” (see A proven process for developing and implementing a workplace health program for the other steps). In our previous blog, we revealed the three Cs of gaining employee support: Committees, Champions and Coordinators, and gave you tips on best practices for the first two Cs –  committees and champions.]

So first, let’s look at what you need to have, and then look at what you need to do.

What you need as coordinator

No matter how skilled, motivated and organised you are, you won’t be able to make employees participate through sheer force of your will. There are things you need – supports and arrangements which should be seen as basic tools-of-trade for any coordinator.

Leadership support

You need to have the visible, active support of your executive or leadership team. This should include both support for your program, and support for your role. See  How to show leadership support for your corporate health & wellness program.

You’ll be asking team leaders and employees to devote their precious time to this whole health and wellness thing, and let’s be honest, some of them aren’t going to listen to you unless they know you have the weight of the senior leadership team behind you.

Employee support

A critical mass of employees need to want the program, and enjoy the program. One of the best ways to create this is through a committee and champions. Find out more  in The 3 Cs of creating employee support for your workplace health program”

Reports and analytics

As the program progresses, you’re going to need to maintain this leadership and employee support by showing concrete results. You need a clear baseline, which paints a compelling picture of the need to change, and you need easy-to-read and easy-to-share reports along the way.

The best starting point is a personal health assessment for each employee, compiled for you into a clear Aggregate Report.

 A well-designed program

It’s an obvious one, but can’t be overstated: a successful health and wellness program needs to be based on best practice principles from the start. All the promotion in the world, and all the support and enthusiasm, will only go so far if the program itself isn’t up to scratch.

Your program needs to offer a wide variety of options, services and campaigns to suit different personality types throughout your organisation. It needs to be flexible enough to cater to the different work patterns and work environments across your organisation.

Most of all, the actual activities and campaigns  need to be fun and worthwhile. They should be founded on principles of behaviour change – activities which are proven to contribute to improved health.

What you need to do as Coordinator

Now we get to the nitty-gritty of your role. We won’t patronise you by listing all the day-to-day tasks you need to complete in your role – we know you’ve got a good handle on those. What we’ll show you is the “best practices” performed by successful coordinators – the all important “how”.

1. Walk the talk. Enthusiastically participate in activities, and others will follow. Participation rates at sites with an engaged coordinator are 5-10 times higher.

2. Engage senior leadership. Invite leadership to visibly engage in every activity you host, and encourage them to talk about it. Give them sample emails or team meeting scripts if that helps, so they can just customise them.

3. Talk, talk, talk. Talk about your program activities and opportunities in casual conversations and during meetings. Use all the channels available to you – your intranet, notice boards, internal blogs, even your Facebook if your work allows it. Put up posters during busy times when there’s lots of people passing by, so you can talk about it some more.

4. Own it. More than just shouldering responsibility, this is about being seen as the go-to person for feedback about the program. You can be the lightning rod for stories and constructive criticism, for you to share with your provider.

5. Teamwork. By involving others, you’ll not only increase your reach, but you’ll increase your impact. Listen to their ideas, ask for their feedback, and encourage their support!

6. Make it fun. People talk about fun activities, and will be more likely to sign up for the next one. Fun stuff also does wonders for employee engagement and morale.

 

In our next blog, we show you the next step in a successful health & wellness program: “Assessing”, and the dos and don’ts of personal health assessments.

Healthworks offers proven, effective health and wellness solutions for organisations across Australia. We work closely with each client to develop customised programs, and to provide expert advice on how to plan, develop, implement and evaluate a successful health and wellness program. Call Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90.

 

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