Rising health care costs, poor health habits and unnecessary medical costs consume large portions of employer resources and your employees’ paychecks. In fact, employees with risk factors such as smoking and being overweight typically incur more health care costs than those with no risk factors.
If you are looking for ways to increase the effectiveness of your workplace wellness program, consider using social networking as a low-cost solution. Using social media as a wellness program tool can increase employee engagement, improve employee behaviors and save your organization money.
Why Use Social Networking?
Increase Participation and Engagement Among Employees
Social networking allows colleagues to challenge each other to participate in wellness initiatives in ways that traditional wellness programs cannot. The peer-to-peer dynamics online can increase employee participation and engagement in wellness initiatives.
Example: Consider creating Facebook groups for employees, depending on their wellness interests. For instance, if some of your employees are interested in running, create a “Running Club” group where members can post dates and times of group runs, races they plan on running, or goals, such as running a certain number of times each week. Once a few groups are created, invite employees to create groups of their own and encourage their co-workers to participate. Achieving wellness goals is much easier when you are not in it alone. Social networking can help employees stay invested in the program, whether they are tapping into an outlet to plan group workouts or just finding moral support.
Encourage Healthier Behavior
Those around you have a tremendous impact on your health. If employees see their colleagues losing weight, quitting smoking and embracing a healthier lifestyle, they will be more likely to do so as well. You can help employees adopt healthy behaviors by increasing peer influence through social networking.
Example: Consider using a corporate Twitter account to post health and wellness articles, information, and success stories. When employees “follow” you, they will receive wellness information as well as examples of how others are embracing a healthier lifestyle. This is an easy way to connect with employees about wellness in a setting they are already comfortable in. Adopting healthy behaviors does not happen right away, but social networking can keep wellness on employees’ radar year-round.
Social Networking is Free
Do you have a limited budget for financial incentives related to your wellness program? Social media is free, and public recognition within these mediums can be very influential in reaching the goals of your wellness program.
Example: Twitter is a great outlet for recognizing employees as a component of an incentive-based program. Consider tweeting the names of incentive winners to create company-wide awareness for the program. If there is a prize associated with the recognition, make that known as well. The public recognition will encourage others to participate in your program and embrace a healthier lifestyle.
When using social media, make sure to respect employees’ privacy and ask permission before posting anything online. In addition, make sure to follow all legal considerations set forth in HIPAA, GINA and the ADA when using social media for wellness efforts. For more information on compliance in these areas, contact Allegeant LLC.
This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.