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What Corporate Wellness Programs Can Learn from the Olympics

Posted Aug 11 2012 12:17am
Why are millions of people glued to their TVs relishing in the excitement of the London Olympics for two weeks? One word: Stories. It's hard not to be inspired as you hear the stories of the top athletes from around the world. The personal stories about their backgrounds, journeys, struggles, and victories have us cheering at the top of our lungs. From Usain and Missy, to Jessica and Rebecca, to Ryan and Cavendish – we feel like we know them and we become engaged with their story.

But how can the spirit of the Olympics help your corporate wellness program? Stories! You can use human-interest stories – just like the Olympic news coverage – to inspire your employee population. 

Research from Dr. Nicholas Christakis at Harvard Medical School found that good health is contagious. Our social groups heavily influence our behavior, especially health behavior. This means that when a person loses weight or quits smoking, their friends and family are more likely to do so as well. As a health promotion professional you can leverage this phenomenon to purposefully spread healthy behaviors. By using strategies that bring your employees together, you can increase the likelihood that your employees get healthier.

Here are seven tips for how your company can share wellness success stories:

1. Create a healthy community – provide an online forum or discussion board for sharing personal stories and health tips. You could also use social networks like Facebook or Twitter.
2. Develop an annual "Wellness Awards" program and recognize individuals who advocate good health and serve as role model for others.
3. Offer a small incentive to encourage employees to share their story.

4. Publish stories in employee newsletters and on intranet site.

5. Share stories at company or department meetings. Employees love to be recognized in front of their peers.

6. Produce posters that include a photo and the employee's story.

7. Include employee stories in other HR communication, like open enrollment materials or brochures. 
Get started today gathering stories. You’ll be amazed how much influence stories can have on your employees and their health. 
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