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  • Andrew Stephenson

Disconnect to Connect

Did you know today the #InternetTurns30? (Just for giggles, here's the first web page. Go on, check it out, you know you're curious... It's OK, I'll wait). Boy, how our world and culture has changed since then!

While the internet and technology have opened the door to seemingly limitless opportunities and information; it's also created overload. Never have we been so connected yet simultaneously so lonely. "Communication" is not the same as social interaction and connection. Connectedness, social interaction, interpersonal relationships, and support are all critical to our wellbeing.

Among the thousands of emails, tweets, pokes, swipe rights, newsfeeds, likes (and not to mention actual work) that people partake in every day, is it really any wonder that companies struggle to get employees to engage with their wellness web portal? #HeckNo

Wellness programs structured primarily as a web portal, an app, a device, a challenge, or counting points... or even a seemingly "comprehensive combination" of these things (read: Achieve Incentive Level 1 by doing a screening, logging in to the web portal once, and registering for one challenge; Achieve Incentive Level 2 by doing all of the above, plus do an even more generic challenge, run around the block backwards and chug a glass of water; Achieve Incentive Level 3 by completing all of the above plus learning the secret handshake and... WTF?...Seriously? That is not making me healthy!). At best, they tick the box and provide some resources for the small portion of your workforce who are specifically interested in managing their own health... ahem... sorry, that's only about 3-30% of your population. At worst, they become a chore, a process employees begrudgingly comply with simply to receive their premium discount. Yes, that's right - they can actually be dis-engaging (#gasp!).

A client recently articulated it quite well:

We soon learned it's one thing to offer a good wellness program, but it's another to offer a program that truly engages the workforce. People will go through the motions to gain financial incentives, prizes, or discounted insurance premiums, but simply going through the motions doesn't lead to sustainable results.

Some think that on-site coaching isn't effective, or that it's too expensive (sorry to burst your bubble... it's cheaper than the hundreds of dollars of incentives you are using to coax people to participate in things that are less effective). Real people meeting employees where they're at - actually connecting with them, listening, and guiding long-term positive improvement is so refreshing in our modern connected world that it's increasingly more effective. While tech is often "sexy" and coaching might feel antiquated...(you mean they come and talk to me. with their mouth. more than 240 characters. using full sentences and punctuation. OMG LOL). It shows your employees a genuine level of commitment and care. It also conquers the number one reason why employees don't participate in wellness programs: a lack of perceived personal relevance. What could be more personal than someone working with you on your own specific goals?

Imagine if more than 80% of your total workforce was engaged in your wellness program - ongoing, without incentives. (Is that even possible? #HeckYes!) Imagine if more than 2/3rds of your workforce were actively improving their health and lifestyle behaviors. That's what can be achieved when you provide a program where employees actually get inherent value.

Programs that are campaign-based or comprised of a bunch of individual (but independent) elements will always struggle to gain employee attention, sustain high engagement or lead to anything other than short-term shifts in behavior.

Programs that have a strong foundation in routinely connecting with employees within their regular workflow, checking-in, and providing content that's relevant and progressive will be far more effective at sustaining the interest of employees and influencing more sustainable behavior change.

So while the internet has changed our world in amazing ways, it's also created a whole host of new-world problems. Sometimes the best way to truly connect is actually by disconnecting. #MindBlown

Interested in learning more about health, wellness, high performance, and safety programs with results that more than DOUBLE industry averages? Check out I'd say just PM me if you have questions... but that might be hypocritical given the content of this article... so maybe you should call instead :)


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