The 5 Pillars of Employee Behavior Change: Pillar #4

November 1, 2017

You have high hopes for your employee wellbeing program—you’re going to motivate and inspire your employees to eat healthier, exercise more, quit smoking… well, the list goes on and on. And while you may have good intentions, if you’re like the majority of HR and benefits leaders, you’ve probably seen a bit of a gap between your hopes and reality. It can be hard to get the numbers you’d like to see for enrollment and participation—not to mention lasting engagement and long-term behavior change.

Part of the problem is that many programs neglect the science of behavior change, which minimizes their chances of long-term success.

In this series, we’ll explore the five pillars of behavior change that will help you design an effective employee wellbeing program. You can find the posts on Pillar #1 here, Pillar #2 here, and Pillar #3 here.

The fourth pillar focuses on taking a person-centered approach to wellbeing. Read on to explore this concept in more detail!

Pillar #4: Make the approach person-centered rather than clinical or medical.

Person-Centered Therapy (PCT) is an approach to physical and mental health that was developed by the psychologist Carl Rogers. PCT aims at tackling the discordance people face between their goals and their reality. Because forming new habits is much more complex than most people realize, there’s often a disconnect between someone’s desire to change their behavior and what they’re actually able to accomplish.

In contrast to the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) model of psychotherapy, in which people’s unconscious desires or false perspectives are revealed and adjusted, the PCT approach accepts and validates the subjective experience of each individual. Put another way, CBT is about course correction, while PCT is about accepting a person where they are and supporting them in whatever change they want to focus on.

If you’re not already familiar with both types of counseling, it can be hard to understand this difference. In a previous post, we provided sample conversations of the same coaching sessions framed with a PCT and CBT approach. You can find that post here.

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that providing personalized health coaching boosted long-term program engagement and outcomes.

It’s worth reiterating that the way the coach approaches conversations with your employees can have a big impact on their likelihood of success within the program. If employees feel guilty or ashamed (or if it seems like their employer is trying to meddle too much in their lifestyle), this can hinder their progress. On the other hand, providing employees with coaches who care about them and offer personalized advice will set them on the path to success.

Want to read about all five pillars of employee behavior change in one place? Be sure to download a copy of The 5 Pillars of Employee Behavior Change eBook. Grab your copy here!

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