When it comes to creating a culture of wellness, one of the most effective methods is to start from the top down. Consider this: whether at home or in the workplace, people are inclined to take their cues from leaders. Children learn from their parents, grandparents, and older siblings. Employees learn from their longer-tenured coworkers and/or bosses. The populous at large looks to medical personnel, pop stars, politicians, thought leaders, and clergy. When you’re encouraging your population to embark on a lifestyle shift it’s important to engage leaders to ensure that everyone is involved. A team will be much more likely to follow through and get excited if they see people they want to emulate embracing the changes.
Chris McReynolds, CEO of Wellsource, wrote earlier this year about the importance of building trust within your population, which then leads to an increased willingness to participate. He said, “You cannot simply launch a wellness program and expect it to work. Everyone needs to participate from the top down. By participating as a leader, you help to build trust, which can lead to increased willingness to participate in the wellness programs you've designed. This, as we know, can lead to a healthier, more engaged workforce among other benefits.”
Where to Start
If you’re looking at ways to implement a wellness plan but aren’t sure where to start, a health risk assessment (HRA) is an excellent first step. When reviewing the results you may find some common themes that, if addressed, could benefit most—if not all—of the people in your population Perhaps your HRA data indicates that there are several individuals at risk for stress-induced diseases or mental illness, and also that a sizable number of them are interested in stress management. By taking steps to provide interventions and resources to reduce or manage stress, it’s likely that everyone will benefit (even those who weren’t at risk for a stress-induced illness). Individuals benefit and the organization will benefit from a happier, healthier population.
It’s crucial for health plans to identify wellness heroes who will lead others to adopt healthy behaviors. It’s also essential for business leaders to practice what they preach.
If, for example, one of the recommended interventions to reduce stress is to ensure that individuals take their full lunch break and get time away from their desks, then it’s important that leaders are supporting the initiative. They’ve got to make sure they’re not only leaving their desks for lunch but also being cognizant of this need for others. It’s difficult to encourage someone to step away for lunch if important meetings are frequently scheduled at 12:15pm. Additionally, by seeing leaders regularly engage in the recommended adjustments (in this case actually taking a break and enjoying their lunch) others won’t feel that they’re doing something taboo by doing it themselves.
Health plans can harness the power of social change agents to both communicate compelling messages and model desired behaviors. In the stress example, a health plan could ask influential individuals such as physicians, philanthropists, musicians, community leaders, and clergy to speak of their own stress and describe the healthy ways they cope, including mindfulness and exercise.
At the end of the day, creating an environment of trust between leadership and your population is what will help foster a culture of wellness. Do this, and both the leaders and the population at large will be able to reap the benefits.
Are you ready to jump start your mission to create a culture of wellness? Download our guide below: