New Year’s resolutions may be wishful thinking for many employees, but there are benefits that can help them achieve their goals.
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- Promoting benefits such as discounted gym membership can help employees achieve their resolution goals.
- Online health assessments can help break down resolutions into manageable aims.
- Wide-ranging communication strategies will help optimise employee engagement.
Most people have given up on their New Year’s resolutions by mid-January. But all that could change with a little help from employers, who could also benefit from having a healthier and happier workforce.
Katy Cherry, product director at Vielife, says: “Typical New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, stopping smoking, getting fit, improving the work-life balance and getting on top of finances. With all these, an employer can provide support to improve the employee’s chances of achieving their goal.”
Employers can support workers’ efforts by offering benefits such as discounted gym membership, smoking-cessation programmes, health and wellbeing information provided through products such as private medical insurance (PMI), and employee assistance programmes (EAPs).
More general health and wellbeing benefits can also help staff. For example, an employee determined to look after their health in 2013 might appreciate a health cash plan to meet everyday health costs, such as dental and optical check-ups.
Kelly Gajjar, consultant at Lorica Employee Benefits, says employers should also consider discount schemes. “These are a great way to help employees make their money go further, and employers can also promote offers on things that will be relevant to health resolutions, like spa days and gym kit,” she says.
Health risk assessments can also be used to support employees’ health kicks. These provide a snapshot of an individual’s health, showing where improvements could be made and making suggestions about any necessary dietary and/or lifestyle changes.
But employer support should be as much about helping staff manage their expectations on attaining New Year’s resolution goals. Vielife’s Cherry says a common reason New Year’s resolutions fail is because they are too broad.
“Someone might decide to get fit in 2013, but that’s a big target,” she says. “A health risk assessment can help them break it down into more manageable and achievable goals and allow them to track their progress.”
A structured communications programme is also essential. JP Morgan introduced a New Year’s resolution-focused wellness programme in 2012 and is rolling it out again this year. The programme includes advice on beating the winter blues, how to set achievable goals, information on healthy eating, discounted gym membership and weight management programmes.
Adam Brooke, employee benefits manager (UK) at JP Morgan, says: “It is a broad programme to reflect the variety of resolutions staff have, but it is all branded as New Year. We build on this with other campaigns and activities later in the year, such as our global corporate challenge, where staff are given pedometers and encouraged to walk the equivalent of around the world.”
For staff who make a financial resolution, such as to save more money, employers can help them to start a pension or get on top of their debt by offering financial education.
Free information and tools such as a budget planner and a money healthcheck are available online through the government-backed Money Advice Service.
For a more tailored service, an employer could approach a financial education provider or financial adviser. Jonathan Watts- Lay, director of Wealth at Work, says: “We can work with an employer to put together a programme of seminars for staff and create a website that will act as a resource centre.”
But employers must ensure their support is consistent, extends beyond January and is promoted widely in the workplace to maximise the chances of employees sustaining their new-found good habits.