A low profile can create plenty of obstacles — not the least of which is participant perception that your services are not a priority for the organization and therefore may not be all that useful. Here are some steps to raise your profile:
Pay attention to your image. In a rush to help as many people as possible, some wellness managers put out services that aren’t up to the professional standards of other departments. If you find yourself creating your own promotional materials and they don’t compare well to other internal services, consider doing less but doing it better. Favor quality over volume if you have to choose.
Establish and promote a long-term vision. Wellness program managers are all too often myopic in their view of the future. Annual plans should be tied to a longer-term (5- to 10-year) vision for the organization’s health and productivity as well as competitive position.
Go outside the 4 walls of wellness. Another common mistake is to become so overwhelmed with the next program and the next and the next that you never take time to get involved in other important functions. For example, chairing an annual charity drive or other cause is a good way to showcase your leadership skills. Success in another area reminds management that your talents are well placed in running the wellness program. And the exposure is good for your program and career.
Get a spot in company communications. Whether online or on paper, get a place in the most widely viewed communication and make your presence there a top priority with each release. Don’t wait until 2 days before the deadline and ask “what are we going to post this month?” Your goal should be to become the most valued section in that communication, which requires planning and effort.
Create an executive advisory committee. Understanding that everyone is maxed out in today’s work environment, it’s important for this committee to have the appropriate charter. They’re not a work group that helps you do your daily job, but influentials who can move your agenda forward at the highest organization level — especially as budget time rolls around.
Build your reputation outside the organization. Speak at wellness conferences, serve on boards, write for trade publications, do press interviews. The more of a leader you are in your field the better it reflects on your organization. That commitment won’t go unnoticed and will be rewarded over time.
You’ll need courage to fully implement these strategies. The obsession with quarterly profits can make long-term, delayed-gratification, visionary thinking risky. But to build a high-profile program that matters — one that survives layoffs and cutbacks — will require strong, bold leaders committed to doing what’s right for today and tomorrow.