By Aaron Keegan, Fusion HR
I am sure we have all been there. You spend a lot of time and resources developing a wellness initiative and participation tanks. It might start off strong but the numbers dwindle or large parts of the work force just don’t seem interested while the same crew sign up to everything.
By understanding behavioural health change you can make your wellness programme more relevant to your entire workforce.
Change is a Process not an Event
Traditionally change has been seen as an event – stop smoking, train for a 5k etc. However if you look at the research around health behaviours, change is actually a process.
We see five stages to this process. Every employee is in one of these stages for each health risk. For a wellness programme to be successful it needs to reach out and support all five groups.
The Five Stages of Health Change
- Pre contemplation (Not ready)People in this group do not intend in taking action over the next 6 months. They are seen as resistant, unmotivated and not ready for help. In fact they are probably demoralised as conventional wellness programmes did not meet their needs.
- Contemplation (Getting ready)
This group intends to change in the next 6 months. However as the pros for change are generally equal to the cons many stay at this stage for a long period. This is known as chronic contemplation or behavioural procrastination. Typical action orientated programmes do not meet the needs of employees at this stage.
- Preparation (Ready)
This group intends to take action in the next month. They have a plan of action such as join a running group or speak to their GP or counsellor. If properly encouraged employees in this group can be attracted to participate in action stage programmes.
People who have begun to take action are in this stage. As it is the most visible group, the action stage is often equated with behavioural change. As a result too many resources in wellness programmes are concentrated on this group to the detriment of other employees.
Maintenance is the stage in which people have made specific modifications in their lifestyles and are working to prevent relapse. While in the Maintenance stage, people are less tempted to relapse and grow increasingly more confident that they can continue their changes. This stage could last from 6 months to 5 years.
When developing a wellness programme for your workforce you need to be aware of not only the health risks within your population but also what stage your employees are at for each health risk. Your aim should be to move them towards Action and Maintenance – nurturing a culture of health, energy and productivity in your organisation.
For the first three stages; discovery, awareness and education are critical so that the Pros will outweigh the Cons.
Make sure that the foundation of your wellness programme is based on accurate and consistent health data. Like everything in your business good information leads to better, informed decision-making.