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The “I” in Group Wellness

by Megan Hunter ASEBP | October 22 2015 | 4 Comments

This week I was driving back to the office from a Body Composition set up meeting with one of our amazing school jurisdictions and it left me thinking about the ways individual health assessments can complement larger group health initiatives—yes, it was a long drive!

The line can seem a bit grey when planning a health initiative at the group level. It’s easy to mistake an individual program or health screening, such as an ASEBP Body Composition Clinic or group access to an online Health Risk Assessment, as a group-level initiative. Of course it can be used as an integral part of a larger program, but it shouldn’t be a standalone. 

There are a number of fantastic ways to integrate individual-focused health tools (i.e. health risk assessments) into your super amazing group health initiatives—and an equal number of reasons to make a point of doing so.

Here are two truths you should know about incorporating those individual wellness tools in your group health initiatives:

Individual health tools can help you understand the health and interests of your group
There is a ton of information at your fingertips, so work smarter, not harder and use what's available! You can start by launching a campaign that encourages employees to complete an online health assessment tool. For groups who have ASEBP coverage, hop onto Apple-A-Day and use the free Health Risk Assessment (HRA) tool. Not only will employees have the ability to check in with their own health and wellbeing, they will be offered complimentary (aka FREE) health coaching at the end of the HRA to help them kick-start or continue to shine in their own wellness.

The individual results are only accessible by the person who fills out the tool so it's a personal discovery. Their participation helps them learn more about their own health and areas where they can improve.

Then you could follow up with a brief anonymous survey. Ask them things like:

  • Based on your own experience of completing the health assessment tool, what kinds of activities or focus areas should our workplace wellness initiative include? and
  • Now that you know more about your own health, what can we offer to support you and your health?

Presto! A magical unicorn has arrived at your door with a place to start. And because employees had time to think about their own health, and areas for growth, you can be confident that what your team designs will be both relevant and of interest to your colleagues!

Participating in individual wellness activities does things to people (good things)
Even though a health assessment tool shouldn’t be a stand-alone or one-off activity, don't write them off—they're a (very important) piece of the workplace wellness puzzle! The very act of completing one can be a powerful eye-opener for employees to start thinking about or even getting ready to do something about their health. Every person is motivated to take action by different things—for some, having new information about their health can be the tipping point to becoming open and engaged as participant in a future wellness program—or perhaps even as a new wellness champion for your workplace (that's Mecca)!

I feel four-leaf-clover lucky that virtually every time I’ve provided a clinic in a school jurisdiction, I’ve met employees that are pumped by their individual results. Some who are enjoying good health tell me they’re encouraged to maintain and protect their health in the future (yay!), and others who identify areas where they can improve, share their plans to take action to improve their health (double yay!). The sparkle on the unicorn? Participants sharing how participating in the clinic made them realize how important employee health is in general and that it spurs them on to think of what they can do next in their workplace! 

So now I'm turning it over to you! Help a sister out and tell me what you think are the best ways to use individual health tools to make your group wellness initiatives sing (like Aretha)?

Stay excellent my friends,

Megan

Megan Hunter

With more than 10 years promoting healthy living through recreation, fitness and play within Canada, the U.S. and Europe, Megan is one of ASEBP’s workplace wellness liaison superheroes! A unicorn among unicorns, our resident ray of sunshine leaves rainbows in her wake and knows that there is no unsuitable place to demonstrate appropriate handstand technique—only unsuitable attire.

. | October 23 2015 2:53 PM

Thanks for this fun post, Megan! I completely agree with you that an individual health focus can benefit group health overall.  I find one of the best ways to ensure individual-focused tools like the Apple-A-Day Health Risk Assessment are used to impact the big picture of employee wellness is to have a plan in place prior to starting the initiative.

If employees are aware that their personal experiences and opinions are needed to develop other workplace wellness strategies, then you may even get greater buy-in right from the start. Additionally, the promotion of individual health tools will not be seen as a one-off, but something that has the potential to benefit all employees long-term.

Megan H. ASEBP | October 26 2015 8:56 AM

Great point Jessica!

Providing employees with a long term vision of wellness support through an integrated plan truly enhances the effectiveness of initiatives as well as displays a solid commitment to a culture of wellness in the workplace.  

Shandy R. ASEBP | October 26 2015 8:04 PM

I've often been struck by the worry that some champions express about seeing individual health assessments as starting too small. In addition to the great ideas you've offered Megan, I've reassured folks that the important thing is to start somewhere but to keep an eye to the bigger game plan - so where you start, isn't where you end - but is part of laying the foundation for more! 

Lorna M. Alberta Health Services - @albertahealthservices.ca | October 27 2015 11:15 AM

Good question Megan?  I have seen a real spark in the overall interest in staff wellness after an ASEBP clinic.  The assessments have become a point of conversation and sparked great dialogue and action.  A number of staff wellness committees formed after an ASEBP clinic... the energy is exciting!