Workplace wellness remains a vital initiative for companies striving toward a healthier employee population and reduced health care costs. A significant part of any workplace wellness program is employee communication and education, and social media can be a beneficial way to expand those efforts.
Why social media?
In order for your health and wellness communications to be effective, they must be reaching your employees. Odds are, many employees and their families are already on social media, so taking your message there is a strategic way to expand the reach of your wellness communications. Here are some additional benefits:
- Employees on social media are more likely to pay attention to communications there than ones you email or post on a bulletin board.
- Research shows that social networks often influence people’s behavior. Furthermore, many consumers already search online for health and wellness information—you have an opportunity to deliver the information employees are looking for in the place they’re already spending time.
- It’s an effective way to keep a pulse on your employees, to see what they are saying about your wellness program and where they have questions—so you can look for opportunities to improve. Social media offers an opportunity for conversation and interaction, which your other wellness communications are likely lacking.
The best places to start communicating are Facebook and Twitter, as they are likely the most popular among your employee population. Create Facebook and Twitter accounts separate from your company accounts—these new accounts will be employee-focused and can include internal communications, wellness and benefits communications.
For an internal social media initiative to succeed, it is vital that you promote it to employees! In one sense, it’s easier than promoting a social media presence externally, because you have a captive audience, but you do need to think carefully about your message. Don’t simply announce that your company has created internal accounts; rather, share the benefits for employees, such as:
- Access to regular health and wellness tips for living a healthier lifestyle
- Education to help them become smarter health care consumers and save money on health care
- An opportunity to connect with other employees and discuss wellness trends or issues
- Easy-to-access information, available anytime
- Ability to ask questions or share feedback about the wellness program
- Updates on wellness events, incentives or contests, so employees are always in the loop
As you’re getting the message out, promote it in several areas. Add a tagline in email signatures, post links on your intranet, post announcements around the office, etc.
Have a wellness communication plan before you get started, so employees don’t follow you and then get disappointed by a lack of consistent posts. Begin by building up friends or followers. Search for and follow/friend all your employees, and also any industry experts on health and wellness.
It may make sense to post similar content to both Twitter and Facebook, as you might have different employee audiences on each. Do remember, though, that Facebook offers the opportunity to post more in-depth updates. Here are some ideas of what to post:
- Wellness tips, both self-generated or retweeted from others
- Information about wellness activities, incentives, events, classes, etc.
- General information about aspects of the program
- Success stories within your program (with an employee’s permission)
- Frequently asked questions
Make sure to interact! This should not be a one-way communication channel. A major benefit of social media is the ability to converse and elicit feedback. If employees comment or ask a question, be sure to reply so they know you are listening and want to hear from them. And go further by asking for input—ask employees to share creative wellness tips or what their favorite exercise trend is, for example, to get them talking.