How to Improve Engagement With Your Wellbeing Strategy
In this guest post, people communications specialist, Sarah Browning York, shares some top tips for improving employee engagement with your organisation’s wellbeing strategy.
You’ve had the meetings with the leadership team. You’ve looked at the sickness absence data. You’ve run the focus groups to gather the employee voice. You’ve checked the best practice approach at other organisations. After all that hard work, you sat down and wrote your organisation’s first ever wellbeing strategy. There were a few tweaks along the way, but eventually, your strategy was signed off. You published it on the intranet, sent out an all staff email to say it was there and maybe made a reference to it on Yammer. The job of communicating your wellbeing strategy is now done. Right?
Well, no, not quite!
For any organisation’s strategy – whether it’s wellbeing, income generation or marketing – to be truly adopted by your people, they have to be genuinely engaged with and by it. The principles and behaviours within it have to become ‘the way we do things around here’. Not just something we heard about once (or not at all if you deleted the all staff email).
How do you engage people?
To truly engage people, you need to make sure your thinking and planning doesn’t stop as soon as the strategy is written. You need to turn your thoughts to what communication and engagement is going to look like. At your organisation. With your people.
But where do I start, I hear you cry? These are the areas I recommend that you think about.
Your purpose – why?
This is the first thing to consider. Why are you communicating about your wellbeing strategy? When you start it may well be about raising awareness that the strategy exists. But if that’s all you do, you’re missing a trick.
How about communicating to raise awareness of how this strategy will make a difference to people’s daily working lives? How about communicating in order to inspire people to change the way they support their colleagues? Or to improve their own self-care?
Once you give it some thought, you can find all sorts of meaningful reasons to communicate.
Your audience – who?
With an organisation-wide wellbeing strategy, everyone needs to know about it. But within that ‘everyone’ there will be distinct groups of employees that may have different communication needs. For example, your customer-facing staff, the people who are based in each region, homeworkers.
Take time to map out your different groups. Then put yourself in their shoes. Think about what they want to hear about wellbeing; what do they already know? Who do they listen to. A better understanding of each group will help you identify effective ways to communicate with them.
Your messages – what?
What do you want to tell your audience? And what do they want to hear? It’s not necessarily the same thing, so you need to identify if there’s a gap. Remember that your employees will be receiving all sorts of information on many topics. The messages that cut through all that noise will be the ones that seem the most relevant to them.
Keep your messages simple and demonstrate why they should care about what you are saying. If there is a lot to say, consider putting together a communications plan to share different aspects of what the strategy means over time.
The practicalities of communications – how and when?
Being clear on what you want to achieve, with whom and with which messages makes it easier to select your methods of communication. Pick the ones that your audiences know and understand. Use a mix to allow people to choose what works for them.
Ensure everything is joined up with a planned approach. So you might launch the strategy with face to face events, provide more detail about what it all means on a website, encourage discussion of key topics on Yammer and use posters for quick reminders.
Think about timing that is going to make your communication stronger, not weaken it. So don’t launch your strategy on 27th December when few people are at work; instead, consider launching in January when thoughts often turn to healthier ways of living. Make use of national awareness weeks, such as Mental Health Awareness Week, when wellbeing is more topical.
Finally…. remember to measure how effective your communication is. Are people hearing, understanding and, most importantly, acting upon your messages? Do they feel they can feed back and have a voice? These factors can help you to plan future communications activity and keep people engaged.
Sarah Browning York is a freelance people communication specialist who has been working with charities, not-for-profit and Higher Education organisations since 2003. She is a certified member of the Institute of Internal Communications (CIIC) and a member of CharityComms.
If you’re starting to think about your organisation’s wellbeing strategy, get in touch to find out how I can help you develop a bespoke plan that meets the needs of your people.