After work, many employees head home to the people who can make or break their long-term well-being: their families. Here’s how to successfully include family members in your wellness initiatives:
Reach out. Don’t assume the employee is the one making the family’s healthcare or meal decisions. Target the spouse/partner in email and direct mail messages, as well as social media efforts. Include them in wellness needs assessments and ask for their input as you evaluate program results.
Coordinate communication. Partner with health benefit vendors (nurse advice lines, tobacco quit lines, employee assistance programs, etc.) to synchronize messages and materials for consistent reinforcement — no matter which family member seeks services.
Take aim at family stress. Be sure coaching and referral resources are available (community services or employee assistance programs) to address mental health, relationship, parenting, and other personal issues.
Encourage family meals. Enabling employees to consistently leave work on time so they can share a meal with loved ones is a simple strategy that promotes family well-being. Talk with managers if you see this isn’t happening; back up your points with research. Eating together fosters good nutrition, strengthens relationships, and even helps kids do better in school.
Promote active family fun. Help families shift from sedentary pursuits to active recreation by pointing them to local hikes, parks and recreation activities, charity walks/runs, and other ways to combine physical activity with social fun. Being active together boosts health for everyone — and strengthens family bonds.
Support use of paid time off. Help cultivate a workplace norm that encourages regular use of vacation and sick time. Everyone’s better off when sick workers stay home; even the most dedicated employees need to get away to refresh and recharge.
Be a champion for flexible schedules. They allow families to spend more time together, participate in important events, and be more physically active — while work still gets done. But rigid scheduling and job environments that promote long hours often mean missing out on family activities or special occasions — and choosing fast food over more nutritious meals.
Share success stories. Coworkers already swap stories about their kids. Invite them to share their family’s wellness journeys on internal blogs or wall posts and newsletters to drive energy and excitement around your wellness campaigns.
Supporting employee health through engaging family members is a success factor for any organization and its wellness program.