The Holidays: Your Wellness Program's Worst Nightmare


The Holidays: Your Wellness Program's Worst Nightmare 



Tips for promoting wellness during a tough time of year

The eating. The shopping. The never-ending string of parties, entertaining and impromptu get-togethers.

The eating.

That's right; the holidays are just around the corner! And along with all of the good times and cheer comes a ton of stress, overeating and skipped workouts.

Simply put, the holidays are your wellness program's worst nightmare. But 'tis not the season to give up hope. If you want to:

  • promote a new wellness initiative in 2013;
  • increase participation in your existing wellness program; or
  • help workers jump-start New Year's weight-loss resolutions...

...here are some great ideas for renewing enthusiasm about--and participation in--your company's wellness program.

Appoint a Wellness Coordinator

If you don't already have one, assign an employee to be your company's official wellness champion. This individual should have primary responsibility for developing and promoting your initiatives, answering employee questions, increasing engagement and measuring results.

Break Out of the Newsletter Box

Yes, you should set aside a section in your newsletter to inform staff members about offerings--but frankly, that's just thinking inside the box. Brainstorm new ways to communicate your wellness messages via your intranet, social media, weekly meetings, message boards, etc. 

And make your message fun! Wellness is a serious issue, but that doesn't mean you can't use a lively, conversational tone (kind of like this article) when writing about it. The more your message resonates with employees, the more likely your employees are to take notice and take action this time of year.

Hold a "Biggest Loser - Holiday Edition" Contest

A little friendly competition may be just what employees need to achieve weight loss goals during the holidays. Hold a six- or eight-week weight loss contest that culminates after the New Year. Each participant pays a small fee to enter. One employee should be the designated record keeper, who runs the weekly weigh-in. The person (or team) who loses the highest percentage of their starting weight wins first prize.

Create a Wellness Initiative with a Holiday Theme

Design simple, short-term programs to keep employees on the wellness bandwagon during the holidays. For example, you could create a "Give Thanks for Your Health" program. This could be customized to accomplish anything from increasing employees' awareness about healthy eating during the holidays, to recruiting workers for an exercise program that lasts through the end of the year. 

The key is to put a fresh spin on your idea to spark employee interest (at a time when wellness is typically low on their priority lists).

Dangle a Carrot
Staying healthy during the holidays takes extra will power. Consider offering extra rewards (cash, vacation days or holiday-themed prizes) to provide the additional incentive employees need to stay on track.

Offer Healthier Options at Work Celebrations
Set the example you want your employees to follow. At your holiday work celebrations, make healthy options available that are appropriate for the season. Meet with the person responsible for organizing food and drinks to come up with healthy holiday-inspired appetizers or festive, lower-calorie drinks. Tons of ideas and recipes are available online. If your affair is catered, meet with the chef to review options for including healthy menu choices.

Provide Wellness Gifts
Package and wrap wellness-related items like pedometers, water bottles, gym memberships or sporting goods gift cards. Hold a holiday wellness "white elephant" gift exchange in conjunction with kicking-off or concluding one of your initiatives.

Whatever options you choose, always strive to make your wellness offerings exciting, fun and positive. Inject a little creativity and holiday cheer into your company's wellness program, and you'll be sure to keep employees engaged.