WHE02: Wellness Communication & Education: Which Info & Messages Truly Help? | with Tom Rath

by Joe Sherwood on April 14, 2014

EAT MOVE SLEEPOne of the most common components of a workforce health strategy is wellness communication and education … messages and information to motivate and equip employees and their families to avoid or reduce health risks, improve wellbeing, and prevent the development of serious (and expensive) health problems. Often a wellness program vendor, as part of their standard program, will include some wellness communication and education — for example, in website articles, postcards and e-cards, and newsletter articles.

A big problem, though, is people are already bombarded with conflicting health information … “the most important thing is to include whole grains in your diet,” “grains and other carbs are bad for you,” “probiotics boost immunity and digestion,” and so forth. While the company’s efforts may be well-intentioned, employees can end up feeling confused or overwhelmed. It doesn’t influence behaviors in a positive way, and it doesn’t boost employee trust and confidence in your overall health care strategy.

So it caught our attention at Aspendale Communications when research scientist Tom Rath published the book EAT MOVE SLEEP: Why Small Choices Make a Big Difference. Tom is a senior scientist at Gallup, where he helps people and organizations reach their potential. His books have sold more than 5 million copies. His previous bestseller was Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements – an important little book that’s given us great insight in helping our clients improve employee wellbeing in areas like physical health and financial health. His newest book EAT MOVE SLEEP goes into a deeper dive on physical well-being.

In EAT MOVE SLEEP, Tom cuts through the clutter of health information to discover what really works – what holds up to the scrutiny of a researcher and scientist. And for Tom, the research was personal, as he has been battling cancer for two decades.

Along the way, Tom discovered small steps that can provide more energy in the moment and improve long-term health along the way. He also discovered a virtuous EAT MOVE SLEEP cycle … eating better makes it easier to move and sleep better, moving more makes it easier to eat and sleep better, etc. This “three-legged” stool of health is a great framework for wellness communications, and the book provides a lot of simple steps that can be put on auto-pilot and make a difference.

At Aspendale, we’ve been gleaning from Tom’s findings and practical suggestions from EAT MOVE SLEEP and creating infographics, posters, newsletter articles, videos, and more. It’s been helpful to a number of our clients because rather than adding to all the clutter of conflicting health information, gimmicky diets, and so forth, these employers are providing information that’s more evidence-based and holistic, along with suggestions for small, sustainable steps that employees can take in real life. That builds confidence and trust in the employer and their onsite or offsite health coaches. Rather than making employees feel confused or overwhelmed, this wellness communication and education is helping support an overall culture of health.

This interview with Tom Rath originally aired on our Engaging Leader podcast, in October 2013 when the book was first released.

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