Each new year, InfoMart conducts its annual Biggest Loser Competition. We invite the entire company to participate, set weigh-in dates, and offer a prize. In a company of more than 100 employees, the turnout is astounding. Nearly half of our entire workforce joins the initial weigh-in and most of the participants end up losing at least a few pounds. It’s a building block of our workplace health program.

The Biggest Loser Challenge is such a big hit with our employees that they start talking about it before Thanksgiving. By Christmas, our employees frequently quip, “I’ve eaten enough over the holidays to contend.” But it’s not just the holiday feasting that gets people excited to participate. It’s a combination of timing, the weight-loss resources supplied by our company, the prize, and the collective engagement of our employees.

So, here are 4 ways to make organizational health engaging for your workforce:

1. Plan with your Employees in Mind

Having a good, solid plan is one of the most important steps that people often forget about. We’re busy with our work and our day-to-day tasks, and it can be difficult to make and stick to a plan that isn’t too complicated and has the organizational support it needs to succeed. It is not, however, impossible to create a great plan that is both simple and easily manageable by only a few people.

First, set a goal based on what your employees want. You can create a poll to find out what your staff is most excited to get out of a health program. Common health goals include:

    • Weight loss
    • Creating healthier eating habits
    • Muscle strength and/or toning
    • Learning physical sports to play with kids or friends
    • Reducing stress
    • Getting more/better sleep

Once you’ve identified the most important goals of your participants, you can create a plan for how to reach those goals. A plan is key to your workplace health program’s success.

2. Promote Your Workplace Health Program

There have been days when some employees are surprised to see others wearing sports jerseys or to hear an announcement on the loudspeaker inviting everyone to head outside for recess. Even if they read every company email they get, their surprise may be the result of having missed the morning meeting or only receiving one heads-up email before the event actually occurs.

To get the most participation and engagement out of any of your company events, you have to promote what you’re going to be doing in advance, and more than once. If you’re going to be holding a company cook-out, make sure you send out at least 3 emails inviting people to join and put some kind of sign up in a common area. If you need a solid attendance count, you can always implement a sign-up sheet or RSVP.

3. Provide Resources

A truly engaging event is one that holds your employees’ attention for more than just the duration of the event itself, and it will improve your workplace health program tenfold. People are more engaged when they’re learning something or growing themselves, so provide resources to assist. These can be anything from lunch and learn seminars to online libraries and articles to fun facts distributed over email.

In our Biggest Loser Competition this year, my company provided additional resources to educate everyone about healthy living and demonstrate how to create and stick to healthy habits. In collaboration with our I’m Fit Committee, InfoMart has:

  • Provided a yoga instructor to conduct a class every Thursday at lunch
  • Brought in a personal trainer to calculate individual BMIs and provide tips
  • Invited LA Fitness representatives to conduct a strength training Boot Camp class
  • Offered healthy alternatives at our monthly company lunches
  • Stocked the snack shop with healthy alternatives

Even if you don’t have many physical resources available to you, you can still improve participation in your workplace health program and employee engagement by inciting discussion. Give your employees something to talk about, such as a list of healthy snacks they can substitute for junk food when they go grocery shopping later, and they’ll be more engaged in your topic than if you just put out a basket of apples and bananas.

4. Present a Prize

You may be thinking, “I’m asked to cut costs all the time; I can’t get approval for a prize that doesn’t make the company money!” However, the return on an investment in the wellness of your employees actually cuts HR costs and improves your company’s bottom line. According to the Wellness Council of America:

  • A company gains an average of $5.81 for every dollar invested in health management programs.
  • Wellness programs can reduce sick-leave absenteeism by an average of 26.8 percent.
  • Health management programs reduce health care costs by 26 percent.
  • Wellness programs reduce worker’s compensation and disability management claims costs by 32 percent.

With this kind of potential return on the organization’s investment, your company can easily justify getting a cool prize your employees will want to win. A prize can even be the incentive they need to make a change they’ve been putting off for too long–and get them engaged in your workplace health program.

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