So much of what I do as a communicator comes down to motivating people. It’s by far the most challenging aspect of my job but also the one that I invest the most time to do right. Communications goals—much like workplace wellness goals—often involve encouraging audiences to take action, change their behaviour or think of something familiar in a new way.
Simple, right? Of course it doesn’t sound even remotely easy and, even though this is my job, there have been times when it feels like climbing Everest—I have zero clue what that would actually feel like—to motivate an audience. As a wellness champion, this is probably going to be one of your biggest hurdles but hopefully it helps to know that you’re not alone.
As humans, we’ve all taken turns at being highly motivated (“There’s an ice cream waiting for me at the end of this run!”) and incredibly unmotivated (“I’m pretty sure those report cards will write themselves if I stare at them…hopefully”). But what does it take to motivate others?
Is it bribery? In a word, no. As a parent, I know that bribery works in the short term for temporary behavioural adjustments—like lengthening a shopping trip—but it doesn’t last. Likewise, while rewards are great for things like generating higher participation in a survey, you’re very unlikely to see the motivation continue once the reward is no longer present. Do your best to resist the urge to rely solely on gift cards or other monetary incentives when you are trying to inspire your colleagues to make lifelong changes.
Is it fear or other emotions? Weirdly, this may be a piece of it. Fear, anger, jealousy, passion, failure and joy are all intensely motivating emotions. So while we don’t want to terrify our coworkers into participating in our wellness activities, it’s important to understand that we may be more motivated to make changes when the pay-off appeals to us emotionally.
Is it progress? You know it! Baby steps are the name of the game when it comes to motivation, particularly when it comes to workplace wellness goals. Give your colleagues the chance to be successful and stay motivated to stick with things that appear (or just simply are) challenging by helping them to celebrate the small, incremental wins.
Is it sharing? Of course it is—sharing is caring (and motivating)! It turns out we all love a story, and even more so when we can relate to it. Ask me how many times I’ve ugly-cried from watching this Pampers ad about moms? Spoiler alert: it’s a lot. Sharing our stories of success, failure and everything in between connects us and being a part of something bigger than ourselves is SO MOTIVATING.
Here’s wishing you boatloads of inspiration, emotion, progress and incredible stories to tie them all together as you embark on another year of workplace wellness superherodom!