Employee wellness programs range from lunchtime walking and running clubs to “weight-off” contests that encourage people to lose weight, one painful pound at a time. Launching a successful wellness program requires you to understand your colleagues current conditioning and what the program will costs your company. Then, develop a solution that appeals to everyone. Will there be bumps and discord along the way? Probably. But approach your proposal as an exercise in problem-solution writing – and you will eventually land on the correct wellness program to shape up your company.
Put on your investigator’s cap and conduct research on your colleagues. Ask probing questions such as, What types of health problems are they experiencing? What are the costs -– financial and personal -– of their presumably poor lifestyle choices? To what type of program would they be most receptive? Blend the analytical with the personal by gathering costs and anecdotes. To sell your proposal with confidence, you must be sold on it yourself.
Begin your proposal with an anecdote that mirrors the bigger issue your company faces. By painting a visual, realistic picture that accurately represents an unpleasant reality, you are making an emotional appeal that is integral to every convincing proposal. You might describe, for example, how one obese employee suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes and, on average, calls in sick two days per month. Portray this employee in compassionate but even-handed terms, and give her a pseudonym to protect her identity.
Take a step back from your proposal and make the case that this anecdote is a microcosm of a bigger problem: that a number of employees are suffering from health problems that pose a greater risk to your company’s health and well-being. Describe the consequences in specific terms: the number of employees, the scope of their health problems, the cost of their health insurance claims, the number of days they have missed work and, to the best of your ability, perhaps with help from the HR department, what this lost work time has cost your company. Once you have painted the problem in human and financial terms, you have laid the groundwork for advancing your proposal.
Outline your proposal in optimistic and specific terms. Let’s say that you have negotiated a discounted rate for your colleagues to join a nearby fitness club and to get private, weekly consultations with a nutritionist. As enticing as this may sound, both the employees and supervisors at your company will need an extra incentive to respond positively to your proposal. So, you might propose that the company pick up the tab -- in anticipation of fewer lost work days and lower health insurance premiums.
Anticipate and address objections to your proposal from the point of view of both employees and management. Employees might balk about their time limitations; management might flinch about the up-front cost. By acknowledging and addressing such objections, you can dilute them and advance your proposal with confidence.
Express your conviction that an employee wellness program would accomplish multiple objectives: it would improve the health and well-being of employees, reduce “sick” and lost productivity days and health insurance premiums and send an important message to your colleagues: that the company is committed to its employees. This commitment, in turn, should enhance employee loyalty.
Convey your reasonable nature by offering to field questions and consider alternatives to your proposal. Close your proposal with an impassioned call to action. You might say, for example, “Clearly, this is no one right way to improve the health and well-being of our employees, though I believe this one is the most practical and affordable among the many options I have considered. If the future of our company lies with our employees, then we must fortify our best and most important assets. And the time to do so is now.”
- Put your proposal to the side for a few days and then review it with a critical eye before you submit it.
- Like all good proposals, yours might spawn counter-proposals. Stay focused on your goals and remain confident; ultimately, your efforts should engender meaningful change in your company.
- Letters from the Homeroom: Sample Letters: Persuasion Letters
- Colorado State University: Writing Guide: Business Letters
- The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: Writing Concisely
- Writing Arguments; John Ramage, John Bean and June Johnson; 2001
- The New St. Martin’s Handbook; Andrea Lunsford and Robert Connors; 1999.
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
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