You’ve implemented a workplace wellness program. You followed recommendations and engaged a professional to identify your employees’ areas of health risk and establish a foundational data set. You allotted an appropriate budget to the program to allow for incentives, rewards and even social functions to further entice employees to participate. The program content was fresh and relevant, and employees couldn’t get enough.

Now the dust has settled and you’re well into the program’s second year. Many employees have seen some improvement in their overall mental and physical health, a few have plateaued but are no longer at risk and you even have a few champions who’ve excelled throughout the program and have really turned their health around.

Read: How wellness programs can empower employees with knowledge and support

These champions are an asset throughout the organization and deserve recognition for their accountability, commitment and progress. But adapting to a healthier lifestyle can be a stressful change in itself. Acknowledging the correlation between physical and mental health will make it easier to anticipate residual effects in employees maintaining their behaviour modifications and provide resiliency training or personal coaching when required.

For example, if an employee reached the goal of achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, the pressure to maintain that transformation could become a major stressor. The stress may manifest in sleep disruption, anxiety attacks or migraines. The employee may now require resiliency training to increase his or her mental defences to new stressors.

By recognizing how mental-health challenges manifest through physical symptoms and how physical changes can affect mental well-being, employers should identify possible risk factors for employees completing a major lifestyle adjustment. In turn, they’ll be able to have followup resources on hand for additional risk areas as they arise.

Read: 3 factors to consider before launching a wellness program

In order to maintain an engaging and successful workplace wellness program, it’s important to continually refresh the content to ensure it reflects areas of relevance for the employee population. So as employees improve in one health risk area and possibly require assistance in another, their wellness program must follow suit and provide support to ensure continuous, positive progression.

Every individual is going to embark on a unique path to reach the ideal state of well-being. The best an employer can do is to keep an eye out for some of the more common results of creating a champion of change.

When it comes to losing weight, it can be a great objective for a first step. It helps prioritize nutrition and physical activity but it can also come with some unwanted baggage. For example, if the individual’s unhealthy habits had been the manifestation of repressed emotional issues, the weight coming off isn’t necessarily going to solve the core issues and may even make them more prominent. Those successful with their weight-loss goals may also come to realize their lifestyle is simply not sustainable in the long term. That again means a re-evaluation of the objective and the steps laid out to achieve it.

If an individual’s goal is to increase financial literacy or retirement savings or reel in spending habits, the resulting knowledge could be overwhelming, especially without a professional to interpret and provide solutions and comfort. Employees need to know it’s always better to have more knowledge, even if the current picture isn’t a pretty one. Their future can’t improve if they don’t know where to start.

Read: 45% of Canadians have a low level of financial wellness: survey

When it comes to improving work-life balance, It can take a while to strike the right balance between professional and home responsibilities. What’s important is that the individual is cognizant of the balance required and is working towards the ideal situation. Initially, it will feel like the person is giving up on one area completely, but it’s just until reaching a point of establishing priorities and engaging resources. Once one area is on track, people can move on to the next and systematically organize components of their life to reach a position of balance that works for them.

Champions of change are just that: champions of the wellness program, taking accountability for their own health and doing the things required to reach their goals and improve their state of well-being. It’s important to acknowledge those people for their perseverance and progression and support them through the coming stages of their evolution to a healthier individual. As others take note of their progress and the rewards that follow, companies will see improvements to the health of the entire organization.

Read: What work-life balance benefits do employees value most?

Karley Middleton ‎is a wellness consultant at HUB International STRATA Benefits Consulting in Winnipeg. These views are those of the author and not necessarily those of Benefits Canada.
Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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