Successfully communicating occupational health management measures? We show how it works.

OHM measures: Communication determines success

This is why participation rates are often too low

Are you passionately committed to the health of your colleagues by advocating for more resources for occupational health management? Do you regularly conduct employee surveys to determine what the pressures and desires are in the company? You put together a diverse health offering based on the surveys but still the participation rate is low? If you answered „yes“ to these questions, you are not alone. Surveys show that many BGM managers are not satisfied with the response of their offers. In individual cases, this can be due to many reasons, e.g., offers are not created in a demand-oriented manner and do not meet the needs of the employees. Most of the time, however, it is due to something much more banal, i.e., the BGM measure has poor communication.

Why good communication of OHM measures is important

A good communication strategy is the be-all and end-all for the successful implementation of occupational health management measures. But why is this so?

Occupational health management in its current form and shape is a relatively new element of strategic corporate management. For example, many employees are not aware that occupational health management exists in the company and what it offers. Health promotion has long since offered more than just boring lessons on how to sit upright or adjust your office chair correctly – make your colleagues aware of this!

Since an attractive health promotion program is new to many employees, it is like introducing a new product. Only when consumers know that a certain product exists, what its purpose is and how to acquire it, will there be a demand for it. For the BGM this means to communicate concretely which offers there are, which purpose these fulfill and how the participation takes place.

In principle, this type of communication is correct, but it only addresses a small part of the workforce. This brings us to the reason why a great health management measure does not have the desired effect due to incorrect communication.

This is why good BGM measures often fail due to communication

The reason why workplace health promotion reaches only a fraction of the workforce and often always the same people is as follows. Only a fraction of the workforce is actually addressed. Why this is the case becomes clear when we analyze the internal communication for workplace health promotion measures on the basis of the 5 Levels of awareness in marketing.

5 Target groups for communication in OHM

The diagram shows five different levels to which employees can be assigned. As a rule, health offers address employees from level 2. These are on the one hand people who have health complaints and on the other hand people with a high level of health awareness, often also the „sports fans“ who take part in every health promotion measure.

However, the majority of employees are in level 1 because they either have a low level of health awareness or have no complaints and therefore do not feel addressed. The following example illustrates this problem. Preventive measures for musculoskeletal disorders, which are the most common cause of sick days, rarely appeal to young employees because they do not have acute back problems or, like most, are not aware that they are at high risk of them due to their sedentary lifestyle.

In the next section, we will show how they can increase the participation rate through targeted BGM communication.

Increase participation rate of OHM measures through targeted communication

Internal communication in occupational health management basically serves the purpose of moving as many employees as possible from their current level to the next level. Even if an employee moves from level 2 to 3 as a result of your communication, this is already a success for your company. Although this person has not yet signed up for a health offer, the risk of illness has already been reduced as a result.

Since there are employees in each of the five levels at any given time, you can now use them to create different target groups. Each of these target groups can be reached individually with an appropriate message. Through employee surveys you can find out what percentage of employees are in which stage. This enables prioritization.

5 tips for the BGM measures communication

Use all communication channels for occupational health management:

This increases the likelihood that collaborators will receive your message. Possible channels are:

Intranet, internal newsletters & blogs, chats & instant messaging tools, social media, face-to-face conversations, bulletin board, corporate wiki, email, employee newsletter, meetings, staff meetings.

Pay attention to the right wording:

It is important to know the needs of employees and to address them clearly. In addition, benefits should always be formulated from the employee’s point of view and the address should be appreciative. Headlines and address lines should also be formulated in an emotionally appealing way.

Communicating the low-threshold nature of occupational health management measures:

If employees are in stage 5 but have not yet signed up for health offerings, this is often due to perceived barriers. Such barriers arise when employees think they don’t have time, supervisors don’t show understanding for participation in offerings, or it is not clear how to sign up for offerings.

Consider the timing and frequency of the address:

Health offers must be communicated in good time so that employees can keep the date free. In addition, regular reminders ensure a higher participation rate. A higher frequency of communication of health management measures implies that you not only advertise specific offers, but also regularly send out information material. This also offers the opportunity to create an awareness of the problem.

Design communication documents in an appealing way:

No one likes to read a corporate health management email when they are overwhelmed by facts and text. Appealing images, emotional language and little text ensure that your messages are read.

You can request an example of appealing OHM communication documents free of charge in the following

Example of OHM communication documents

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