Wellness awardIt’s easy to get jaded about awards for employee wellness programs, or to feel that doing presentations at conferences and talking to the media are luxuries you don’t have time for. But seeking public recognition of your program’s accomplishments is something you should see as an essential part of your job. Promoting your program to the world outside your organization is as important as promoting it internally, and the two are intrinsically connected.

There’s nothing self-serving about it. Public recognition of your employee wellness program will…

  1. Validate participants. It bolsters participants’ respect and enthusiasm for your organization’s commitment to wellness, while reducing the resistance of employees who have remained on your program’s sidelines. Your participants want to hear that they are in an award-winning program and that’s it’s being developed by an expert.
  2. Help the employee wellness industry grow and improve. Employee wellness is still a nascent industry with more questions than answers. Those of us in the field need to learn from each others’ successes and failures and exchanging ideas, theories, and aspirations. Reading case studies of award winners, learning about other programs in media, and attending presentations are fundamental strategies for the evolution of our professional community
  3. Help establish your organization as an employer of choice. Being known as an employer committed to wellness helps attract prospective employees. Whoever does recruiting for your organization will be all-to-happy to tout the wellness awards you’ve won or to bring to job fairs copies of articles in which your program is featured.
  4. Help sell your C-suite on the value of employee wellness. While your company’s competitors chase their tails trying to measure an ROI that their C-Suite will inevitable view skeptically, your wellness program will be featured in media outlets in which your organization is represented as an innovative leader. Ideally, your organization will leverage this success in its culture and even its brand. This is just one way that your program aligns with your organization’s business objectives.
  5. Cultivate a culture of health. Recognition of your program sends a message to your team, your participants, your boss, and society overall that wellness is something to be honored — that it is becoming mainstream (establishing wellness programs and the resulting healthy behaviors as the norm) and is a symbol of excellence.
  6. Motivate you and your team to excellence. You do a great job because you are committed to the employee health and because you strive to excel at everything you do. But the extra nudge of potential recognition  — trying to meet award criteria; generating meaningful results with a brilliant new program that you can present at a conference; being featured in trade, local, or national media — can help keep you on track. You don’t want to develop your program just to win awards. But many award criteria represent reasonable benchmarks against which you can measure your program. You might not like one award or another, but if you can’t find any award that you feel your current program can win, you may need to ask yourself why.
  7. Recognition attracts more recognition. When your program innovations get mentioned in the media, the story is likely to be picked up by other media or attract the attention of conference organizers. When you present at a conference, the media will find you at the conference or via the online agenda. When a reporter is writing an article about employee wellness, and their Google search reveals that your award-winning program has been featured at a wellness conference and that you are an expert (and you are!) who’s previously been quoted by the media, you will emerge at the top of their list of potential sources when they are looking for a program to write about.

Here are just a few tips on how to make the most of external recognition:

  • If your organization has a public relations department or a communications consultant, get them onboard with your strategy to promote your wellness program externally.
  • Once you’ve won an award, have its approved logo or some mention of the award added to your communications, including your internal and external websites.
  • When you win awards, be sure  your organization publishes a news release about it — even a free web-based news release if you’re a small company with a limited public relations budget.
  • Announce your awards, media mentions, and presentations via social media like Twitter and Facebook.
  • Your vendors — especially larger wellness vendors — can help you find opportunities for recognition. If they are not helping you get presentation gigs and media interviews, let them know you’d like them to. Most of them are well connected, with resources for publicity, and they have an interest in having you tout the excellent results you achieve using their products and services. It’s a win-win.
  • Social media like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube offer countless new opportunities for sharing your success. With the support of your organization, make the most of them. Resist the temptation to convince yourself that you don’t need to engage in social media to be successful at what you do.
  • When you present at conferences, consider skillfully discussing the lessons you’ve learned from things that have not gone well, as well as your successes. Not only will your audience learn from your lessons without have to repeat your mistakes, but they’ll find your presentation to be more engaging, refreshing, and authentic. Sitting in an uncomfortable room listening to speaker after speaker talk about how perfect they are grows tiresome fast.
  • If you hear about an opportunity for recognition, but your program doesn’t quite fit the request, suggest a colleague’s program. Sharing and support — this is how professional communities thrive.

Don’t be intimidated if your program hasn’t yet generated measurable results. Other aspects of your work are worthy of recognition — maybe it’s your program’s communications strategy, an innovative partnership, a creative intervention, the success story of a single participant, or a novel approach to team-building.

So seek those opportunities to tell the world about your wellness program. And the next time you hear that a reporter or blogger is looking for examples of innovative programs, jump at the opportunity to tell her about yours.