How Employers Can Help Support Wellness Resolutions in the New Year

March 17, 2019

A notebook is open to a list of New Year's goals
Jonathan Thompson

New Year's Resolutions tend to be problematic. In fact, Business Insider reported that about 80 percent of all resolutions made in January fail by the second week of February. While the exact nature of these goals varies, a general theme is that people want to lead happier, healthier and more active lives.

Unfortunately, one of the most common reasons given for why these endeavors fail is that people simply don't feel like they have enough time. This provides an interesting opportunity for employers concerned about how they can improve health and safety in the workplace. How can workplace wellness initiative effectively support employee resolutions into the new year?

Foster a Healthy Culture

One of the biggest problems with workplace wellness programs — regardless of when they take place during the year — is that they tend to alienate certain people. For example, a common initiative used by many businesses is a weight loss competition. But what if some of your employees don't want to lose weight? What if they can't? Some may even struggle with an unhealthy body image. When deciding how to best support employee resolutions, it's better to think about how you can create a culture of wellness in the workplace.

A powerful strategy here is to create policies that make it easier for your employees to live healthier lives. And make sure that senior management is on board. If employees see everyone making an effort to make changes and stick to their resolutions, they will feel more motivated to do the same. Similarly, avoid punishing people who don't reach their goal, whose goals don't fit into a specific pattern or who just don't want to participate. Too often, efforts to improve health and safety in the workplace inadvertently shame or bully employees into participating. Instead, give them the tools to succeed in whatever resolution they want to pursue and allow them to decide for themselves how to proceed.

For instance, companies like Kimpton Hotel offers employees free healthy snacks, as well as a free annual wellness fair, according to Glassdoor. Through these actions, the company gave their employees powerful reminders about practical steps that they can take to improve their wellbeing, and made it clear that the entire company is interested in a healthy culture. This approach will contribute to an inclusive atmosphere which, in turn, can help to increase morale.

Create a Sense of Community

Similarly, you may consider forming "resolution clubs" in the workplace that allow employees with similar resolutions to support each other. According to Forbes, numerous studies have found that behavioral change — like New Year's Resolutions — is more likely to stick when people have a support system. Not only will these groups encourage each other, but they will also help employees have a sense of accountability, which can act as a powerful motivator.

It's also very important to encourage employees to set proper, measurable and attainable goals. This can be accomplished through workplace wellness meetings or signs posted around the office. Encourage people to focus on goals that are clear and can be tracked. And then, most importantly, give them a place to track their accomplishments. You might arrange for check-ins within those resolution groups or other ways for employees to share their successes.

Supporting employee resolutions can be an impactful way to improve healthy and safety in the workplace. Not only will a culture of wellness decrease medical expenses, but it can also improve morale and enhance productivity. Just remember to build a culture in which your employees feel like they have the tools and opportunity to pursue their healthy new goals.

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