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A good wellness program can spur employees to ditch unhealthy behaviors, reducing their health care costs and helping them work more productively. But that’s only if they participate.

Offering a wellness program isn’t enough, say the HR advisors at Sibson Consulting. Organizations should do everything they can to persuade employees to participate in the programs, which increases the chances that they will change their behaviors.

Here are four ways your organization can bolster participation by improving the way it communicates wellness to employees.

1. Shine a light on wellness. Employees probably won’t dig through all their medical benefits to find out how to sign up for a smoking-cessation class. Assess how easy it is for employees to get information about specific wellness programs.

Advice: Ask employees—through surveys or focus groups—how they get details about the programs and how easy your wellness materials are to find and understand.

2. Set a strategy. Coordinate all your organization’s wellness messages so employees perceive them as part of the same effort. Here are some action steps for your wellness communication strategy:

  • Set goals. Figure out what your organization wants to happen. How many employees will participate in the short and long term? Be specific: Examples: 75% of employees will take a health risk assessment by June 1. Half of smokers will take a smoking-cessation course this year.
  • Learn about employees. Find out where smokers go to light up. Then post the date of the next stop-smoking clinic there. Design literature so it prompts employees with specific health issues to take action.
  • Tailor the message. Young employees respond to writing and designs that may not captivate older workers. Choose words, colors and graphics that appeal to employees in different life stages.
  • Be consistent. Materials promoting the company weight-loss challenge should use the same name, logo and slogan as those advertising the brown-bag seminar on managing diabetes. Build a wellness brand.
  • Consider incentives. Cash, prizes and recognition can move employees to participate in an exercise class, take a risk assessment or get an annual mammogram, even if those weren’t already priorities.
  • Choose the right media. If everyone takes breaks in the cafeteria, that’s a good place to hang posters and hand out literature. If your workforce is young, employees might respond to an online campaign.

3. Create awareness. Employees will participate in a program only if they know it exists and they recognize they need it. Along with publicizing the program, encourage employees to learn about their health risks by taking assessments and by talking with health coaches.

4. Communicate constantly. Some employees will respond to regular messages about wellness by eventually taking action. Most, though, will seek specific programs only after they realize they need or want to lose weight, stop smoking or get in shape. Make sure your materials are always in front of employees when they have those “aha!” moments.

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