Helen Smith: Improving engagement when launching a health and wellbeing strategy

When launching a new health and wellbeing strategy, employers need to be proactive in the way they publicise it. After all, staff will not access benefits if they do not know they exist.

Invite employees to help

How do you encourage employees to feel part of the strategy from the outset?

A good starting point is getting employees involved in naming the new strategy. Invite staff to submit their suggestions for a name and choose the best one via a vote or something similar.

Giving employees control of the name helps them take ownership of the strategy from the very beginning; it is their name, for their benefits programme.

Run a range of activities 

Once the strategy is named, the launch can be celebrated with a week of activities. Each day’s events can be tailored to match a separate theme of the strategy.

One day, for example, could be branded a mental health day. This might involve initiatives such as the launch of wellness action plans, encouraging staff to have lunch together and placing positive statements, such as ‘actually I can’ and ‘I am in charge of the way that I feel’ around the workplace to support positive thinking. Other days could focus on areas such as work relationships and physical health; activities might include active sessions, stretching sessions and fitness classes.

There are many benefits to organising a range of launch activities. First, it is easy to tailor events to specific themes or pillars of a strategy, to create a week that firmly introduces the wider programme.

Second, it is a great talking point. As employees get involved in the different activities, they start thinking about the new strategy and the benefits on offer to them, and are much more likely to remember these and engage with them down the line.

Finally, getting employees to talk about their health is crucial; it not only helps to open a dialogue in the workplace, but it also encourages staff to take responsibility for their own wellbeing.

Focus on line managers

The line manager is a key communication point between decision-makers and the workforce. If they are not aware of the benefits on offer themselves, they can act as a barrier, potentially undoing all the great work the organisation has done to implement a health and wellbeing strategy.

The relationship between manager and employee is also a key predictor of wellbeing at work. If an individual feels unsupported or unheard, it can impact their knowledge and adoption of wellbeing initiatives.

Providing line managers with effective tools to learn about new initiatives will inform them of what is available, so they can promote them and get buy-in within their team and work together to create a healthy working environment.

Launching a new health and wellbeing strategy is an unparalleled opportunity to talk to employees about the new benefits at hand. By focusing on line managers and organising activities that celebrate the range of benefits on offer, a new strategy will find the reception it deserves.

Helen Smith is chief commercial officer and business sponsor for wellbeing strategy at Benenden Health