Employers Versus Barriers to Health Goals

01.10.20

With the new year comes the inevitable New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions are grounded in action-based rhetoric, but statements like “I will lose 10 pounds” or “I will start exercising” can lack the specificity or measurability to remain sustainable. With media and societal pressure to make resolutions each year, it’s easy to find employees motivated to make changes, but potentially without the tools needed to make changes stick. Helping employees adjust their action-based resolutions into outcome-focused goals shifts the mindset into an incremental plan to success. With employees spending over a third of their week at the office, it’s essential to develop strategies to stay healthy at work. Today, we’re outlining a few strategies for employers to help employees work to set and achieve health goals in the workplace.

1. Learn your audience and their goals by conducting an anonymous survey.

To help employees with their goals, it’s imperative to know what they’re working towards. Conduct an anonymous, voluntary survey that invites employees to share their health goals with the company. Let employees know that leadership is on their side and wants to work to help employees reach their goals. Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Survey found the 1 in 2 employees would like to see a greater focus on wellbeing at their company. The survey also found that employees want their company to take an interest in their physical and mental wellbeing. 

2. Create a team challenge. 

Based on what you know about your employees’ goals, try and support their effort with a team challenge. Employees may create goals for themselves, but they may also not have a clear understanding of how to set goals that are going to be sustainable, effective, and challenging. Research shows that the level of difficulty and specificity of goals matters. Creating a team challenge provides hands-on experience with goal setting, while also contributing to employee and team development. Some ideas include: 

  • Hydration Challenge: Invite participants to track how much water they’re consuming at work. Consider providing employees with a workplace waterbottle to standardize consumption and have teams tally their bottles on a centralized whiteboard. 
  • Walking Challenge: Separate employees into small teams of 5-6 and challenge them to take a group walk together to specific locations 2-3 times a week. Employers can outline the required distances and encourage groups to take photos at the endpoint to track progress.

Providing an incentive for the winning team is a great way to promote some friendly competition, while also improving health and standardizing goal progress. 

3. Provide structural and environmental opportunities for employees to succeed.

Employees value help from their employer when working on healthy eating goals. A study from the American Heart Association and Aramark found that 4 in 5 employees felt that having healthy food options at work was important to them and almost 70% of employees appreciate help from their employer when trying to make healthy decisions. Survey your office environment and see if there are small ways to help employees more easily reach their health goals. For example, if you find that a majority of employees are working on reducing sugar intake, consider purchasing sugar-free coffee creamer instead of traditional.

Employers can serve as an ally and support system to their employees’ health in small, sustainable, goal-focused ways. To learn more about goal setting, check out this post from our Health Advising team. They’re weighing in what makes a goal achievable and how they set themselves up for success inside the office and out. 

 

A woman standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera

 

Brittney Vigna, MPH, CHES, CPH
Marketing Manager