Should a health intervention fit routines or disrupt them?


Gallup reports that unhealthy and absent workers cost the UK economy £2.1billion in lost productivity.

Employers have proof that the health of their employees cannot be separated from the health of their organisations.

But as the modern workplace becomes the logical place to improve habits and behaviours, important questions loom. Questions like: should a health intervention fit existing routines, or disrupt them?

There is a temptation to opt for the latter; to shower employees with gym memberships, boot camps and high-tech fitness devices.

These may be beneficial additions to any wellbeing strategy. But in reality, they rarely become true habits because they are too ambitious and removed from an employee’s routine to be sustainable.

What employees actually need is something small and in-sync with their current lifestyle, according to Dr BJ Fogg. He is a member of the Virgin Pulse Science Advisory Board and a leading expert on behavioural change.

In his Ted Talk, he says that for a behaviour to occur, three elements must be present: motivation, ability, and a trigger.

However, he warns that, in order to do something difficult – like improve health and lifestyle habits – high levels of motivation are needed. And often, these alone aren’t enough.

“Relying primarily on motivation to change behaviour in the long-term is a losing strategy,” Dr Fogg says.

“But you can take motivation off the table if you make the behaviour change small enough. Then, it’s very easy to repeat, and it can become a habit.

“As we create these habits, little by little, we approach desired outcomes in a very reliable way; one that doesn’t regress, make us give up, or go back to the way things were.”

For more expert advice on health and performance, watch our webinar, Building a workforce that bounces back.

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