Rosemary Froehlich spent over 15 years in Corporate Human Resources and a decade in marketing and advertising. As the person responsible for running the company’s wellness program, she knew which communications got attention, which newsletters and webinars attracted subscribers and attendees, and which special reports she forwarded to senior management. In this video Rosemary talks about the the importance of communications to the success of workplace wellbeing. In this video we answer the questions: 1. Elements of effective wellness program communications 2. Why it is important to create a brand for your wellness program, 3. Common mistakes in wellness program communications.
Interview with Rosemary Froehlich:
Interview with Rosemary Froehlich
Mari Ryan: Welcome to the Workplace Wellbeing Essential Series. I'm Mari Ryan. I'm the CEO and founder of Advancing Wellness. It's my pleasure to welcome you today to this expert interview where we explore topics related to employee wellbeing. My guest today is Rosemary Froehlich. Rosemary spent over fifteen years in corporate human resources and a decade in marketing and advertising. As a person responsible for running the company’s wellness program, she knew which communications got attention, which newsletters and webinars attracted subscribers and attendees, and which special reports were forwarded to senior management. Today, she uses her insider experience to write persuasive copy and content for the workplace wellness industry. Since 2005, Rosemary has used her favorite communication skill of listening as a volunteer facilitator at the Den for Grieving Kids in Greenwich, Connecticut, a support group for kids who have experienced a death of a parent or sibling. Rosemary, welcome.
Rosemary Froehlich: Thank you so much, Mari, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Mari Ryan: Today we’re going to talk about communications, and communications is considered a best practice in the world of worksite wellbeing programs. I wanted to dig into this a little bit because I know it’s something that many people struggle with and it’s something we spend a lot of time talking about when I’m working with clients. Communications is also a key element that can drive employee awareness and participation in wellness programs. Rosemary, I’m curious, in your experience in running a wellness program, what did you learn about effective communications when you were running an employee wellness program?
Rosemary Froehlich: I learned a lot, and as we both know, an effective communication strategy is really important as a component as a successful wellness program. When I was in corporate H.R., I led the benefits and I implemented a wellness program where none existed. There was a huge learning curve for the employees, as well as for me, and not only did employees need to understand what the program was about, but they really needed to understand why; why are we doing this? Why was it important to the organization?
Employees have a lot of questions. It can be an emotional topic, they have concerns, so it was important to have multiple channels for communication; email, presentations, being available for one-on-one, discussions, and giving them options as far as expressing what they needed to. I also learned that you have to be flexible; the wellness industry is evolving, it continues to evolve, and what worked for me in Year One, might not work in Year Two or going forward.
Mari Ryan: Great, important learnings – that’s really good. Could you describe for our audience what are the elements of effective communication for a wellbeing program?
Rosemary Froehlich: I think there are a couple major ones; number one is that it’s so important to have the C-suite and senior management buy in. Why wellness matters to the organization needs to be communicated from the top down on a frequent and ongoing basis, and it’s not just a conversation about wellness, it’s a conversation about why a healthy and thriving, productive workforce is important to your organization’s business strategy and goals.
Also important in communication, you need to know your audience. In this case, it’s your employees. When you talk to the employees, you need to find out what’s meaningful to them because this way you can create a program that has buy-in from all parties, and when everyone takes ownership, you’re creating our program and we all have a vested interest in seeing it be successful.
Thirdly, I love success stories and I think that if you can get senior leaders or managers or employees who are willing to share a success story that they’ve had, whether it’s weight loss or maybe they’ve put a meditation practice into play in their life, if they are open and willing to communicate that to others, I think you are taking great steps to elevate the workplace culture.
Mari Ryan: Many of the organizations with which we partner to be able to create healthier workplaces have a distributed workforce, and I’m curious, from your experience what are your thoughts on how to effectively communicate when the workforce is distributed in multiple geographic locations?
Rosemary Froehlich: It definitely presents an additional challenge and I don’t think it’s something that’s going to go away anytime soon. I think it’s very important for both the employer and the employees to be proactive. The employer needs to go the extra mile to reach out to these people, ask them “what do you need, what can we do to help you feel more included and more engaged?” It’s easy to default to email; I’ll email the person sitting across the room from me, but as far as you want to get out of the habit a little bit, and I think make the default something like this, a zoom call or Skype, get some face-to-face time, even if it is virtual. I think that goes a long way to helping these employees feel more included. I think it’s utilizing multiple channels of communication, email, conference calls. If they can come into the office once a month or something like that, get an activity going that would be ideal. Again, I think you’ve got to keep it on the top of your mind, and not forget that we want to remember they need to feel included so that they can be engaged with what the company is doing.
Mari Ryan: That is so important. We often just default to email because it’s such a standard business method of communication, and yet in so many industries, and we have this with many of our clients, some folks do not have email as part of their jobs. I’m thinking of a hotel; the housekeepers or the security people may not have access to computers and hospital systems, housekeeping, and grounds and parking attendants; there’s many, many different types of jobs that do not have email. It’s an important element to remember that there are many different audiences and what the right channel is to communicate with them.
Rosemary Froehlich: That is so true. I agree.
Mari Ryan: Good. What would you say are some of the common mistakes that you see in wellness program communications?
Rosemary Froehlich: There are a couple major ones, and again, it is an evolving industry, so it’s a process. You’re trying and you want to get the communication out and it’s not always going to be perfect. There’s three “babies” that I’ll mention that you want to avoid; the first one is not being authentic. If your message lacks authenticity, if your organization wants you to respond to emails very quickly, 24/7, or you’re expected to be at your desk the entire day, eat lunch at your desk the entire day, it’s going to be difficult to persuade employees that you are really walking the talk of a workplace wellness environment. I think when employees don’t trust your motives, they will either resent the message or you won’t get any meaningful participation. So, authenticity is a big one.
Secondly – also big – is using a one-size-fits-all strategy. What might work for you may not necessarily work for me, and if an employee feels that the message doesn’t resonate with them, or they say “oh, this isn’t for me,” again, you’re not going to get the engagement. So, I think anytime there is an opportunity to have avenues for individual coaching, or just one-on-one discussion, you’re going to … if that’s such a success driver that you’re getting everybody engaged and people don’t say “oh, this isn’t for me, I’m checking out.”
Lastly, which I’ve spoken about throughout our conversation is assuming you know what employees want. For many reasons, I think, get face-to-face with employees, reach out to them, get their input, what’s meaningful, and let’s build our program. Encourage ongoing feedback because when you get the buy-in and people have a vested interest in this program you’re on the road to a successful program, and having good employee engagement, which is what I think we all want.
Mari Ryan: Wow, all really key points. I love it; it’s so consistent with the way that we work with our clients and with the best practices, just the important elements. Clearly, your program must have been very successful because you’ve incorporated so many of these key elements into it. If our audience wants to learn a little bit more about your work, where can they learn more about you and find you?
Rosemary Froehlich: My company is Rosemary Blair Copywriting, and that is www.rblaircopy.com. Or, they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mari Ryan: Wonderful. Thank you so much. This has been a delightful conversation. You’ve brought out some essential points about the importance of communication and some effective ways in order to carry that out in wellbeing programs. Rosemary, thanks so much for being here today.
Rosemary Froehlich: Thank you so much, Mari, it was a pleasure. I enjoyed it and look forward to continuing to talk about these important topics.
Mari Ryan: Thanks so much, Rosemary.
Rosemary Froehlich: Thank you.
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