Workplace Wellness – Using Peer Support to Promote Positive Change

Sarah Szul, Health Solutions Manager

Sarah Szul, Health Solutions Manager

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workplace Wellness – Using Peer Support to Promote Positive Change

It’s no surprise that unhealthy behaviors are costing employers billions of dollars each and every year.  As worksite wellness programs gain popularity, employers are still struggling to find ways to keep employees engaged in making positive behavior changes.

The most successful type of behavior change programs involve ongoing accountability and encouragement – think Weight Watchers.  The Weight Watchers program not only provides encouragement through peer support, but also accountability with the weekly weigh-ins.

Getting Healthy with Peer Support

When others have the opportunity to learn from another person’s experience through their own personal story, it makes facing “change” less daunting.  It makes one feel that “if that person can make changes and be successful, so can I.” Peer support and encouragement  is one of the most amazing motivators because most people care a lot about what other people think. You can leverage peer support  and use it to move your employees towards  more healthy actions.  For instance, you could encourage  your employees to remind each other to take their health risk assessment or schedule their annual physical exam on your company Facebook page or Twitter account. You can also use social media platforms as a place to encourage and  congratulate each other for meeting personal goals or even just trying – being recognized by a colleague on a corporate wide level is a real  motivator.

Another more traditional example is how some companies have organized peer support groups for tobacco cessation which have been quite successful.  A current tobacco user is much more open and willing to listen and learn from a former tobacco user than some “instructor” who has never used tobacco.

It’s not always easy to make the best decisions when it comes to our health.  However, employers can help their employees by offering them various wellness initiatives that involve peer support to promote lasting change.

How are you using peer support and encouragement in your wellness program?