Does your health promotion program have purpose? If so, is that purpose a business objective, or is it to enhance the lives of your employees? You might say "both," and for many, a belief in that is true. To test if your hope that your program has the right intentions, my follow up question is, if asked, which of these purposes would your program participants say drives your program? If they answer "for the business to save money", then you're losing.
You may have seen this inspiring MBA graduate commencement address (click here for a bit of Monday Motivation), in which Casey Gerald discusses that fulfillment in business life is about finding "work of not just making a living, but of making a life". If you're trying to build a health promotion program to achieve business outcomes then you are working to make a living. How can you expect to engage, motivate, and inspire your population to be healthier if they don't believe the program is centered on benefiting them as individuals? Where's their personal value?
There can be a very fine line between dictating and coercing versus nurturing and inspiring. Look at your program structure. Is it mandated? Does it have penalties? Are you dictating specific goals or setting outcome standards? In other words, are you dictating or are you inspiring?
More and more employees are seeking a work environment and a career in which they feel valued and where they perceive they can make a difference. The best talent has an urge to find work which they think enhances themselves as individuals. Data from Universum, a global business firm that specializes in employer branding and recruitment has found that for several years, the clear number one career goal for college graduates and MBA candidates is work life balance. 85% of the global survey respondents say work is more than a way to make money. Translation: in order to get and keep the best employees, your people need to feel valued and they need a purpose.
That's why health promotion is far more successful if you change your perspective. The driving purpose behind your program should be enriching the lives of your employees. Helping them find balance, purpose, and a sense that working at your company helps them become a better person. When you achieve this you will have far better organic engagement and a program that achieves fare greater business advantages (engagement, productivity, retention) than a "business driven initiative".
As a graduate, Gerald's insight into the business world is astounding. He went on to note "The new bottom line for business is the impact you have on your community and the world around you - profit can't make up for purpose." That impact begins with your people. And the performance of your people begins with your ability to nurture a healthy work life balance.