How to communicate about and engage employees with wellbeing initiatives

It is well documented that a happy workforce is a more motivated and productive one. However, encouraging employees to buy into new wellbeing initiatives and actively participate isn’t always easy – and that’s usually because they haven’t been effectively communicated with.

How to communicate about and engage employees with wellbeing initiatives

So, what constitutes best practice when it comes to communication? How can you ensure that employees take an interest and get involved with what’s on offer?

Have a plan

Work with your internal communications team to put a benefits launch plan together. It will help everyone to understand the part they play in delivering the news to the company and in guaranteeing high uptake. A good launch will involve a number of tailored, promotional and educational activities and a wide range of marketing materials, such as video, emails and posters.

Involve the whole company from the start

If people feel involved in something, they are far more likely to engage with it. Depending on the nature of the initiative you are introducing, it might be an idea to ask for help in giving the programme a name or putting out a request for some internal ambassadors who can advise and assist with the implementation.

Explain the motivation

If you are introducing a new benefit, employees need to understand the rationale and how it fits into the company’s vision and values.

For example, is a gym membership on offer because it will help attract new candidates or is it borne out of a genuine desire to keep the workforce healthy and fit?

Is menopause support being introduced in recognition of changing workplace demographics or because it has been requested?

It’s important to acknowledge the reasons for doing what you do, whether it has come from employee feedback, or general concern for wellbeing, or something completely different. It’s equally vital to explain who these initiatives can benefit and how they can be used.

Cascade from the top

You are far more likely to see a good uptake in wellbeing initiatives if they are effectively cascaded throughout the organisation. Someone from the leadership team (ideally, the CEO) should send an initial company-wide communication to demonstrate their buy-in and commitment to the new wellbeing initiative. In addition, the core messages should be cascaded to line managers so that they can educate and encourage teams to make best use of the initiatives on offer.

The line manager is a key communication point between leadership and the wider workforce. If team leaders aren’t themselves engaged in the initiative and aware of the importance of their role in it, they can end up acting as a barrier – potentially undoing lots of hard work.

Lead by example

Leaders also need to walk the talk when it comes to driving employee engagement in wellbeing initiatives. If employees see their managers working long hours or not taking breaks, it will become ingrained in their minds that this is what is expected, resulting in an unhealthy culture.

Employees need to feel confident that they can achieve a work-life balance and look after their wellbeing, without fear of judgement. Ideally, the organisation’s leadership will demonstrate and proactively encourage healthy behaviours, which will in turn drive much higher engagement with wellbeing initiatives.

Share case studies

Case studies can really bring wellbeing initiatives to life. Suppliers should be providing these as a matter of course but if not, ask for them. There’s no better way to convince people of the value of something, than hearing success stories from others who have been there and done it. These can be particularly helpful with some of the newer initiatives on offer in today’s market, such as fertility benefits or unlimited annual leave.

Distribute regular updates

Sometimes, employees need reminding that a benefit is there. Regular updates not only help to keep the benefit top of mind but also reinforce the message that they work for a caring employer that actually wants its employees to use the benefits and initiatives on offer!

Request feedback – and act on it

Once a benefit or initiative is in place, it should be regularly reviewed to see what the uptake is and how it is being received. Asking for feedback through a quick email or intranet poll is a really easy way to monitor this. Once received, the findings must be acknowledged and followed-up.

If companies are taking the plunge with a new wellbeing initiative, it can have very tangible benefits for both the employer and employee, but it does require careful planning and communication to ensure that all the right messages are being deployed in the right way, at every level of the organisation. There is simply no point in investing in something – however well-meaning it may be – if employees are either unaware of its existence or too poorly informed to engage with it.

The author is Jo Roberts, head of marketing at Fertifa.

This article is provided by Fertifa.

Fertifa will be exhibiting at this year’s live and in-person Employee Wellbeing Congress on 30 September. Find out more and register to attend.

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