With a good intention wellness programs are rolled out in companies in Sweden. Everything from walking competitions, healthy lunches, yoga and stress management seminars. So why is the effect on behavioral change so small?

There are 3 main factors that determines if your program/activity will succeed. And of course there are other factors too, like motivation, since behavioral change is a complex thing. But these three are really core factors!

1. Management commitment

I like to think that we do not care about our managers behavior, but we certainly do. They are like role-models at work. When it comes to wellness programs it is crucial that managers “walk the talk” and participate. One huge reason is that it will show employees that “this is something we put high up on the agenda” and “this is just as important” as working. This means that HR must get managers on board and communicate the need and affect skillfully.

2. Opportunity

There are many core factors impacting individual behavior change and the success to create a culture of health, but opportunity stands for 40 percent*. If there is no time or space for engaging no one will do it because they simple can´t. If you are really serious about a program or an activity (implementing it because you want to achieve something and not because you want to show off) – ask yourself it there are opportunities or if you need to change something or create them.

3. Relevance

This is a huge thing! I wonder too often what companies are thinking with. Have they not analyzed the needs? Have they not asked the humans in the organization “What do you need?”. Please, do not offer programs and activities not being relevant for the target group! It is a waste of money, time and maybe the worst – your credibility will ge gone in a minute. And do not guess what´s relevant – examine first!

*O´Donnell WELCOA, Harvard University