Clear and impactful communication in business is key. And as we’ve noted, this business truth holds for workplace wellness programs, too.
We previously reported on a study titled “Let’s work out: communication in workplace wellness programs” and published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management.
The results? “Perceived social influence from co-workers had an indirect effect on people’s health behaviors through their perceived social support from their co-workers, as well as through their organizational socialization.” In other words, when employees felt that — through communication — they had gained support from colleagues, their “health behaviors” were positively impacted.
The findings offer specific guidance for employers and members responsible for engagement as part of a well-run workplace wellness program: “Co-worker communication and socialization appear to be important factors in understanding individuals’ health behaviors; thus, organizations that offer workplace wellness programs should provide opportunities for socialization and co-worker communication to facilitate employees’ healthy behaviors.”
But communicating, of course, often is easier said than done. And a new MedPage essay outlines some of the specific challenges of communicating in health-related areas. The essay was written for hospitals, but many of the reasons hold true for workplace wellness, too:
- The fast-paced nature of healthcare. This occurs in medicine, but also in workplace wellness, leaders need to stay on top of employee needs and new trends in the field.
- There are too many things going on to keep track. Biometric testing, chronic disease management, engagement, mental wellness, nutrition, company culture and environment. A well-run workplace wellness program requires coordination.
- Complex problems that we are unprepared for. Health is complicated. So can be wellness. Clear communication to engage and encourage — especially when individuals might be managing issues that management doesn’t fully appreciate… or is unprepared for.
- Physician communication skills. For workplace wellness, this challenge may apply to senior managers who are comfortable (and experienced) discussing supply chain management, but have less experience discussing the importance of healthy habits. It’s not that they can’t do it, certainly, but not all managers might have experience.
These communication challenges are not impossible to overcome. But as the benefits from strong communications have shown, a well-run workplace wellness program will seek to recognize and address them.