How to Avoid Information Overload With Employee Wellness
Nick Haas
employee information overload

Information overload is a risk when you’re providing health and wellness information to employees. Corporate wellness programs tend to cover a lot of ground, from weight issues, to smoking cessation, to mental health. In order to promote health among employees, the full range of possible concerns needs to be addressed. As a result, information overload can happen. Communication can be so frequent, excessive or broad that what an employee needs to hear can get lost in the shuffle.

Frequency and specificity of wellness communication

Newsletters are often part of corporate wellness programs. The frequency of these newsletters is something to take into account. Common formats include weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. If information overload is a concern, monthly newsletters with only the most relevant information for the month might be your best bet. Employees will be more apt to look forward to it when they see it monthly rather than weekly. On the other hand, receiving too many emails can cause employees to lose interest and tune out. The tips in these newsletters should be easy to digest and implement. 

If more frequent newsletters make sense for you, an option is to segment the newsletter. You can do this like you would a mailing list. Have employees sign up for what is most important to them. They can choose specific health topics for which they’d like more information. This way, employees are getting more of what they need and less of what doesn’t pertain to them, avoiding information overload.

An innovator who’s avoiding information overload

One company paving the way in corporate wellness is Activision Blizzard. They offer benefits around life events like parenthood, sudden loss and chronic disease. Their program aims to implement creative solutions for common health problems. Vice President of Global Benefits Milt Ezzard says they move fast when they see a window of opportunity to address an issue. They use innovative tech tools to find specific solutions for their employees. These tools include a high-tech bassinet to keep babies asleep longer, and a tool for managing diabetic blood sugar levels, preventing trips to the hospital. These resources based on life events can deliver timely wellness support. Graduation, marriage, pregnancy and new parenthood can be opportunities to do this. For example, information specific to postpartum depression for a new mother returning to work would be more helpful than general resources on mental health. As a result, you can avoid information overload.

Mental health resources for employees

Companies with good mental health benefits see less job burnout, depression, workplace injury and more. Mental health resources should be available for those who need it. In 2011, PriMed asked its employees to complete a health risk assessment to identify relevant issues. The results showed their 480 employees were at the greatest risk for depression, stress and obesity. The company then built their wellness program around those specific areas and put an emphasis on mental health.

In order to address mental health concerns, a corporate wellness program should give access to employee assistance programs (EAPs). Informing employees of their access to EAPs is a way to provide the right information at the right time. The issue here is that it can be difficult to speak up about mental health struggles. Include at least some mental health resources in general wellness communication going out to all employees to address this issue.

Wellness communication tips to avoid information overload

  1. There are several types and sizes of wellness programs. Choose one that’s broad enough for the range of your employees’ needs but fits the size of your business. This can prevent information overload. 
  2. Keep it to a scale your company can comfortably handle.
  3.  Keep communication simple and easy to digest.
  4. Tailor the information employees will receive. The more specific, the better. Cater to specific needs that correspond to their life events, or let them choose topics.
  5. Make sure employees are aware of the resources they can seek out to address their own mental and physical health concerns.

Wellness resources are only helpful when they’re used. For instance, a cluttered newsletter that employees will skim and delete at light speed won’t fit the bill. The future of wellness plans is delivering broad yet simple information, along with resources that are picked by the employee or that address events in their lives. As a company, this means investing in the health of your employees.

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