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6 tips for leveraging a wellness council

April 16, 2015

in communication,wellness

many companies form wellness councils to incorporate a broad range of opinion and experience into their strategy and to keep all players informed so the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. in my experience, these councils are invaluable, provided they follow certain guidelines.

1. fill the seats with the right bodies. it’s a given that your wellness manager and others from your benefits department will fill some chairs. the rest of the seats should be filled by members of your communications team, in-house alliance partners (e.g., health and safety), third-party partners, and field human resources. you also want to include some average joes and janes from different locations and roles and perspectives: the skeptics, influencers and naysayers.

2. be upfront about your ask. make sure you get your agenda out in advance and that you specify what type of involvement’s expected. is there any pre-meeting homework or data collecting they should do, or can they just show up? should they expect to leave with a task force or other assignment? clear communication makes the difference between a sound investment in a day offsite and one that’s more questionable.

3. include outside voices. your thinking is enriched by hearing those outside your echo chamber. invite other companies to come and share their story. hearing from others about their successes and travails provides inspiration and validation, and creates a knowledge circle that benefits everyone.

4. make it about the data and keep it bite-size. before you bring everyone together, make sure they understand your progress to date. share data, such as your progress toward goals, your upcoming priorities and tactics, and your available employee survey results, so participants come prepared. then be sure to contain your agenda to a few related specifics so you have meaningful discussion and walk away with determined next steps.

5. invite dissent and skepticism. you know there’s skepticism and cynicism about what you’re doing and why. you need to hear it. ask your participants to collect feedback and then create a safe zone for them to air what they hear. keep the negative feedback from derailing your agenda by immediately identifying and prioritizing action items to validate or counter these opinions.

6. spread the word. your council is your ears-to-the-ground troop, disseminating information and pulling it back in for your use. equip them with the tools they need to spread the word about the work being done and to collect feedback to enrich future council meetings.

these are my tips for leveraging a wellness council. what would you add?

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