One of the main challenges of Workplace Health Management (WHM) is communication. It is important to sensitise employees on the topic of health, to provide them with relevant information and to convince them to participate in health management activities. But this is not easy. For a reason communication is considered the supreme discipline of health management.
It usually means a lot of effort to make the various activities internally known and to reach the right target groups. It also requires a certain degree of regularity and at the same time WHM communication must not get lost in the internal flood of information. This is exactly the challenge we would like to help you with.
Therefore, we have compiled our own experiences from the last few years as well as various findings from research. We have included tips that you can implement on your own without any major "buy-in". In addition, we have also included a few approaches that are more holistic and can help you in the long run to position the communication on WHM properly within your company and to integrate it into the corporate culture. Here are our 8 communication tips at a glance:
- Create an overview of your target groups (persona)
- Define which target group your activities are aimed at
- Choose the right communication channels and communicate as diversely as possible
- Set up a communication timeline and inform at regular intervals
- Involve leaders. They should lead by example
- Involve new staff from day one
- Health ambassadors
- Start a focus group
As some of our tips build on each other, we recommend that you consider them in this order if possible.
Create an overview of your target groups (persona)
In order to be able to communicate WHM activities in the best possible way and in a way that is appropriate for the target group, it is advisable to define target groups for communication. These can be close to the basic WHM target groups, e. g. age, location, physical or mental challenge of the work. But here we should also pay attention to how we can best reach the individual target groups. Therefore, the location, the language region, the mother tongue used and also the working environment (office, home office, production etc.) play an important role.
Try to consider the different aspects of work. Who tends to be reached best via digital channels such as intranet, email or newsletter? And which target groups have little or no access to these channels, for example because they work in production or outdoors? Here it is very helpful to seek direct contact with the target groups. Through short informal conversations, you can quickly get an overview of the respective areas of activity and find out which communication channels these employees use to inform themselves and can best be reached.
Define which target group your activity is aimed at
Now you need to address the different challenges of the target groups. Of course, there may be activities that are relevant for all employees. Nevertheless, try to understand which activities have a particularly high relevance for which target group. This way you can ensure that no target group and no WHM-relevant challenge is left out. For example, if you offer a workshop on "healthy sleep", make sure that employees who are particularly challenged by their job (e. g. shift work) are directly informed about this event.
Choose the right communication channels and communicate in as many ways as possible
Most of those responsible for workplace health management use the intranet as a central communication channel - and depending on the company, this works very well. But in many companies the intranet is a neglected desert and often it is the vulnerable target groups that cannot be addressed via the intranet. That's why it's important to take other channels into account when communicating and to pick up the target groups where they are (user targeting).
Once you have an idea of how you can best reach the different target groups, find out which communication channels are available in your company to inform them about planned WHM activities. It is advisable to contact the internal communication department. There you can find out about the guidelines for internal mailings, how you can use screens or posters, or whether there have already been good experiences with reaching employees via posters or flyers on their desks. Maybe you can also use the internal social media channels for your purposes. Get an overview and always keep an eye on your target groups.
Create a communication timeline and provide information at regular intervals
Get an overview of the upcoming WHM topics in the coming months and create a communication plan on this basis. You can then discuss your communication activities in detail with your communication or marketing department, get their support and become part of the general internal communication plan. This can also prevent your WHM communication from coinciding with another internal communication at the same time, which draws all the attention to itself and overlaps your topic.
Often it is not enough to inform about planned activities only once. A communication plan helps you to use different channels and, for example, to play the reminder about a planned activity via another channel. This way you can plan the communication over several days and reach as many of your target groups as possible.
In the case of a webinar or lecture, it is sufficient to inform about it 2 weeks before the event and perhaps send a reminder during the week of the event. For more complicated activities, such as a longer team challenge, more lead time, different channels and reminders are needed.
Involve leaders. They should lead by example
Our experience shows that the more managers are involved, the greater the use of WHM activities in general. This starts on a small scale. When managers start to combine their short meetings with a walk, this soon finds imitators. When managers use their lunch break to do sports, it increases acceptance and attracts other employees. Even the mental health of employees is significantly influenced by the behaviour of managers.
The WHM should be promoted and supported from the very top. Therefore, involve important stakeholders and use their influence to give the regarding WHM activities more weight. If you succeed in winning over a member of the top management, or even the CEO, for WHM then your activities can receive significantly more attention and become part of the corporate culture far more quickly.
Don't forget to inform new employees
It is important to welcome new employees in the first few days, to make their entry into the company easier and to familiarise them with the company culture. Use this opportunity to introduce them to existing workplace health management activities as part of the onboarding process. Invite them to make use of it and let them know how they will be informed about new upcoming activities.
Targeting new employees is also particularly recommended if you are currently in the process of building a health-promoting corporate culture. Invite them to be part of it, introduce them to your ideas and maybe you can even recruit or more of them to become an ambassador.
Create a network of Health Ambassadors
As diverse as the people in your organisation are, so are their knowledge and interests. Take advantage of this and invite health-conscious and health-interested employees to join your network of ambassadors. This group should meet regularly and be informed about upcoming activities. The main task of the ambassadors is to make the planned activities known to their teams and their network. In addition, they give a face to the communication and can gather feedback if necessary.
Set up a focus group
Depending on how complex your organisation is, it eventually makes sense to set up a focus group. Unlike ambassadors, focus groups do not focus on the dissemination of workplace health management activities, but on the strategic planning of workplace health management activities. The focus group can help you to get to know the needs of employees from different business areas or lead to you being informed about current developments at an early stage. In addition to the input you gain, with a well-functioning focus group you also have stakeholders who can be considered for top-down communication.
These were our 8 tips for a successful communication of WHM activities. Do you have any questions or suggestions? Just get in touch with us!