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Health care leaders see social media as gateway to improving employee wellness

3 min read

Brands & Campaigns

Status update: Adam Gaub is going for a jog… with 157 of his closest co-workers.

This type of post may become more common on Facebook as businesses attempt to capitalize on the ever-increasing popularity of social media as a communication tool to engage employees in health and wellness programs.

Several health care leaders speaking at a Wednesday session of the three-day National Business Group on Health National Conference on Health, Productivity and Human Capital said they see social media as a growing way to involve employees in employer-promoted wellness activities.

Healthways Chief Wellness Officer John Harris said his company has used Facebook and Twitter as means of mining data and directing health-minded consumers to proper fitness and health programs. For businesses seeking to have healthier, happier employees, social media is the best way to go.

“People don’t trust any of us, but they do trust the open web,” Harris said. “We find putting things out on free sites you will get more mileage out of it than if you were to bury it on your own site. The social network is about the people they love and spend time with — people don’t want a separate social network just for weight loss.”

Costco Wholesale Health and Wellness Manager Anne Casey agreed, saying store managers and on-site wellness advocates had been asking for the use of Facebook pages to promote wellness activities in their individual warehouses. Additionally, Casey said, the company plans to use Twitter to start a company-wide weight loss campaign across the U.S., beginning in January.

“Social networking is the next place where we’re going to see a lot of innovation,” she said.

Healthways, which has partnered with polling firm Gallup to provide an in-depth “well-being index” is able to look at data that goes to the why employees are the way they are: Everything from how a commute and family life affects time management to whether stress or location is affecting a desire to become healthier.

Companies need to better understand the driving factors in their employees’ lives to get them to become happier, and ultimately, more productive. But they also need to take a marketer’s approach when selling them on the idea of wellness — because in this case, one size definitely does not fit all.

Casey said by having store employees at Costco who were not “marathon-running zealots” lead the wellness charge, it created an atmosphere where more people felt they could complete the tasks and felt excited about engaging in the activities — things as simple as having fresh fruit on Fridays.

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Image credit, photoGartner, via iStock Photo