Workplace Wellness Strategies

Habit Change in Employees Takes Time; Commitment

Habit change; behavior change; wellness coaching; health coaching; workplace wellness programs; employee wellness

Habit Change Requires Patience and Dedication

The underlying driver of any wellness program is to inspire and motivate people to change behaviors. Whether the goal is to eat healthier or to quit smoking, it all comes down to habit change. Behavior modification takes time, patience, determination and most of all commitment. In today’s busy workplace this can be challenging. Start with a realistic approach to getting employees to change wellness behaviors. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is not likely to give you long-term success. Change can happen, but it’s important to recognize that habit change looks very different on each employee.

5 things to consider when trying to encourage effective habit change:

Create a successful program that inspires, motivates and supports long-term habit change. Be sure to keep the following points in mind during your wellness planning.

It takes time.

We’ve all heard it before. You can’t make someone change. But people can and do change and often in predictable patterns. It is seldom a lack of knowledge or a lack of motivation that is getting in the way. Behavior change is a process that often includes relapse and obstacles. Think of well-being as a skill, just as you would any other focus in the workplace. Habit change and culture change need to be ongoing and remain a priority in order to get lasting results. Consider moving towards more layered and targeted programs that will be rolled out for longer periods of time. Managing diabetes or controlling hypertension does not happen in one visit or in a 4-week program. It is an ongoing effort for individuals and some will need a good deal of support to achieve that. We have found great success in behavior change when we can keep an employee engaged in at least a 6-month program that offers monthly or weekly coaching sessions. This higher touch program allows our coaches to work on gradual changes with opportunities to see individuals through those challenging or ‘relapse’ phases.

You have to create some type of individual approach to habit change.

Every employee group we work with is different and each individual within a group requires varied support. If your programming is a blanket approach, you may be spinning your wheels. To inspire behavior modification in others, you have to meet them where they are individually. This is hard to do with just a weight loss challenge or a mass marketing approach. If one-on-one or small group coaching are at the foundation of most of your programs, other elements like challenges, education and marketing will create the ongoing motivation employees may need to stay focused on their individual goals. Finding ways to keep your program fun and innovative will help drive engagement. Just don’t lose the individual focus in doing so.

 Give them control.

Changing health habits cannot be forced. It has to be voluntary. However, a good coach can help an individual to see the right path for change. The goal should be to get your employees participating and engaged in wellness programs, then give them the space and time they need to create their own behavior change. If an employee feels pressured into change, they may shut down or show greater resistance. Instead help them feel supported and encouraged, but let them keep the ball in their court when it comes to their well-being.

 You have to approach change at various stages.

The process of behavior modification typically happens in stages. We live in a instantaneous world where we expect results to happen fast. Employers often expect their employees to jump right into action. We have seen this become a barrier for some leaders.  They set out with a specific goal for a wellness program with their vision of what a healthy workforce should be. Keep in mind that success cannot always be seen on the exterior. Each employee may fall into a different place on the spectrum of wellness, as well as a distinctive stage of readiness. Both of these factors will play into that individual’s success. We use an approach based on the Transtheoretical model of behavior change in our coaching programs. We assess an individual’s readiness to act on a health habit change and provide strategies to guide that individual from pre-contemplation or contemplation to action phase and then into maintenance. Going back to number one, this can take time and patience.

Create a company culture that supports change.

Finally, be committed to well-being company wide. Job stress, burnout, financial issues, hostile work environment are all examples of personal issues that can play into an employee’s overall well-being. Well-being and culture must be approached at all levels. When it comes to rolling out wellness in your company, try to keep your programming simple and change or build on each element gradually. Be sure you are carefully communicating all that you offer to your employees and regularly assessing results. It is also important to get and accept employee feedback. Listen to what your employees are saying about company culture, how they perceive their work environment and whether or not they feel supported.

Lead With Heart to Create Lasting Behavior and Culture Change

Consider that there is always an emotional factor to habit change and employees will show different levels of motivation. Be supportive and create a work environment that communicates that clearly to your workforce. Most importantly, be patient. If you are truly committed to creating a healthier workforce, that message will eventually be felt by your employees. With time and commitment, positive behavior modification will transpire.

For more tips on how to create a healthier lifestyle for you and your employees, contact SB Wellness today for a free consultation. From biometric screenings for your employees to wellness programs and seminars, we can help you create a healthier, more productive workforce for your organization.

Sb wellness group, SB wellness staff; corporate wellness; workplace wellness programsShelly Beall is founder and owner of SB Wellness Group. SB Wellness has been helping businesses develop customized solutions for wellness programs with proven success for more than 20 years. From planning and implementation to screening and reporting, we orchestrate each stage of the wellness development process from start to finish. Find out more at or sign up for our Workplace Well-Being Insider designed to keep employers and directors up-to-date about the latest in employee health news and workplace wellness programming.

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