How to make employee health engaging during the silly season October 31st, 2017, by Ken Buckley

Are you a party pooper? How to make employee health engaging during the silly season

Imagine this for a moment. You’re a hardworking employee. You’ve given everything you’ve got this year, despite crazy targets and tight deadlines.

You’re finally on the home stretch, that wild downward slide from Melbourne Cup to the end of the year. You’re looking forward to blowing off some steam as you cope with the pressure of final deadlines.

On Tuesday, you’re told you have to attend a compulsory WHS training session. With a sigh, you trail in with the other employees who barely have time for lunch let alone training.

You quickly discover this is alcohol and nutrition session. A skinny woman is lecturing on the perils of alcohol, and the dangers of of overindulging on party food in the lead up to Christmas.

You feel deflated, and then angry. You resent that your boss thinks you need to be treated like a teenager. After work, a group of you hit the pub, partly out of defiance.

It can be done: with careful planning

As the employer, you can see their point of view. No one likes to be lectured at.

Yet, we share your point of view too: excessive alcohol and poor nutrition are directly related to lower productivity and higher absenteeism. It’s a fact that employees who eat healthy have more focus, energy and resilience.

So what’s the answer?

How can you make alcohol and nutrition education engaging this time of year? How can you encourage them to make good choices, without it being patronising?

Here’s some engagement tactics that we’ve used successfully with numerous clients this time of year:

1. Show that it was requested.

Remind employees that they requested this information in various ways. Point back to surveys or online health assessments, or suggestion boxes, where employees indicated they wanted help with nutrition.

When it’s employee-driven, rather than top-down, it’s seen as less patronising.

2. Fit the facilitator to the culture

Regardless of content, the person facilitating the session must be able to build rapport with the audience. Whether it’s a group or private consult, you must consider culture fit. Consider gender (women are generally less likely to take nutrition advice from a male) and demographics (a slim city female will have less credibility in a regional bluecollar site), as a generalised example.

3. Ensure content fits demographics

Similar to choosing the right presenter, you also need to match the content to the audience. There are many ways to approach nutrition (we have four different nutrition seminars, for example, plus private consultations and various team challenges). It’s important to consider what’s relevant to your employees. For example, are they going to be more interested in healthy choices when eating out regularly; or alternatively, how to cook at home on a budget?

4. Make it fun

This is not the time for intense fact-laden education. Let employees have a giggle, and make sure the sessions are interactive and fun. Include games or challenges. For example, we use “alcohol goggles” that mimic the effect of drinking too much, and challenge participants to wear them and test their coordination.

5. Promote the sessions cleverly

What you say on the posters, emails and other marketing matters. You don’t want to lose them before you even run the session. Would you prefer to go to a session called: “Alcohol education” or “How much can you drink before driving?”

6. Get the managers onboard first.

One snide or sarcastic remark from a manager and you’ve lost any chance of engagement. Explain to managers why you’re running the sessions, and how it will make their life better (ie more productive and focused teams).

Want us to give you engaging end-of-year health and wellness for your employees? Contact us for a discussion or quote at

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