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May 6, 2010

Health Is Wealth: Making Wellness Pay

By Ed Lanigan
Senior Strategist

Resolution: greater wellness

We’re all familiar with resolutions to exercise more, lose weight, lower our stress, eat more fruit and vegetables…in general, to live healthier lives. We make resolutions, but all too often, we fall back into our old habits.

Why is it so difficult to incorporate greater wellness into our lives? That was the topic of Addison’s recent three-part “Health is Wealth” Webinar series.

Here are the main takeaways:

It feels so close, yet so far away
Throughout the day, we are bombarded with wellness messages. On an individual and personal level, the messages are clear. Even reality TV shows, like The Biggest Loser, are pressing the point. On a national economic level, it’s huge. The rapidly growing wellness industry is projected to be worth over $1 trillion in the next 10 years.

In spite of all the hype and publicity, wellness may seem out of reach. Communications overload makes decision-making seem too complex. Multi-tasking and pressure for instant gratification do not allow the needed time. Business objectives focus on tangible ROI, and wellness is difficult to measure in the short term.

Four keys to success that can bring wellness closer
To help our clients begin new wellness programs and improve existing programs, we’ve developed a methodology around these four keys to success:

  1. Behavior Change Science – How can individuals and groups be motivated to change?
  2. Communications Design – What is the message and how should it be delivered?
  3. Support & Incentives – What are the factors that will ensure and reinforce success?
  4. Evaluation – What should be measured?

Key 1: Behavior Change Science (blended with communications design)
Behavior change science has evolved over the past three decades. Today, there are practical steps for motivating change. This is about more than assessing the five stages of readiness for change. It involves engaging individuals in a way that helps them understand their risks, and then empowers them to formulate their own goals. It’s also about tracking small successes and reinforcing each step along the path.

Key 2: Communications Design (blended with behavioral change science)
Effective communications design incorporates elements of behavioral change science at each step of the way. Communications should target the appropriate audiences (“one size fits all” messages can be a deterrent to change), creating awareness and providing clear direction for the “next step.” The right approach helps reinforce progress through the stages of awareness, enrollment and ongoing engagement.

Key 3: Support & Incentives
We all need to take ownership of our behavior. But sometimes, it’s the support and encouragement we get that makes all the difference. Support can come in many forms, from coaching and flextime to financial incentives. Support may also extend into the communities where we live. In the end, it’s about letting everyone know that if they make the effort to improve their wellness, they will be supported along the way.

Key 4: Evaluation
What is success? For an individual, it may be staying with a wellness program one day at a time. For an employer, it may be increasing the percentage of employees enrolled in the program. Key measures to track include satisfaction, participation and risk reduction.

Summary

It’s not always easy, but the path to wellness can bring many rewards. For more information on wellness programs and the four keys to success outlined here, download these PDF presentations from our three-part wellness Webinar series.

Wellness Webinar 1 — July 2008

Wellness Webinar 2 — October 2008

Wellness Webinar 3 — November 2008