Stress Management, Well-being and Self-Care

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Creating SUSTAINABLE Behavioral Change Part 3

by James Porter February 04, 2022

Only 4 things really matter when creating a behavioral change app

In the last installment I talked about a behavioral change program I attended with Michael Kim, CEO for HABIT CHANGE, a company that helps employees make healthy lifestyle changes. Right at the beginning of the program, Kim showed us a list of 25 things that behavioral change apps commonly do for those who use them, but research tells us it’s only the first four things that really matter:

Provide instruction on how to perform better

Model/demonstrate the behavior

Provide feedback on performance

Goal setting – behavior

Michael Kim began by dispelling certain corporate wellness myths, which surprised me, considering that many of the people who attend this conference still hold these myths near and dear to their hearts. (I’m referring here to the long-standing debate between Al Lewis and his camp who claim that corporate wellness programs COST a company money and Ron Goetzel and his camp who say that corporate wellness programs SAVE a company money.)

While wellness programs are admired and desired in companies by both employers and employees (75% of US employers indicate commitment to wellness will increase over the next 3 years; 67% of employees said participation in wellness programs increased their commitment to their employer’s mission and goals) in most companies Michael Kim noted these wellness programs at the time of the conference, still weren’t getting a whole lot of traction. (On average, 78% of employees DON’T participate in worksite diet or exercise-related events.) That’s an astounding number.  Kim’s sources for this information included The Economist, Towers Watson and The Rand Corporation. Because of Covid-19 these numbers have been changing.  Employees are now rating wellbeing programs as more valuable than in previous years. 

We’ve always known there is a gap between what employees want from their wellness programs and what those programs are providing. Willis Towers Watson released a whitepaper a few years back that showed “help with managing stress” was what employees wanted MOST from their company’s wellness programs. But according to this same paper it was last on the list of where these same companies directed their resources. In 2021 Willis Towers Watson reports: More than half of respondents (54%) report rising stress or burnout as the biggest wellbeing challenge connected to the pandemic. To address these challenges, 62% cite enhancing mental health services and stress/resilience management as a top priority over the next six months, compared with just 47% six months ago. 

So it seems to me that this disconnect between what employees WANT from their wellness programs and what these same wellness programs were providing was coming back to bite wellness programs in the you know where. Michael Kim’s research seems to confirm that YES there is a BIG disconnect and it’s preventing employees from making the very lifestyle changes wellness programs have been put in place to bring about.

In my next installment, we’ll look at two lists of the DO’s and Don’t’s of how to motivate employees to take better care of themselves.

James Porter
James Porter