Pilot Programs

Let’s face it, even though the link between employee health and productivity has been proved time and time again many organisations still struggle to invest in their health and wellbeing program at a level that will empower employees to change their behaviours around health, improve organisational culture and increase productivity and performance.
My experience is that business leaders are being forced to cut spending on anything that is not adding value to the bottom line, and since the vast majority of wellbeing programs do not have a clearly defined strategy with measurable KPI’s, HR teams (where the wellbeing program often sits) find their wellbeing budget being slashed or having next to no chance of getting their next year’s budget approved.
Over the past 12-18 months I have had a number of companies wanting to partner with us because they like our end to end tailored approach, however feel they can’t due to lack of budget. What ends up happening is we get asked to partner with the business anyway however asking us to work in the way they always have, that is, with a small budget offering a couple of random ad-hok initiatives at each of their sites around the country. I call this ‘the default position’. The problem with this approach is when you do things in the same old way you’ll get the same old results – ending up in a cycle of a program that is not measurable and as a result never get the budget you need to get a good result.

Solution – design and deliver a Pilot Program!

I am a huge fan of Pilot Programs as we have used them to successfully help organisations break the not measurable/inadequate budget cycle, working within their existing budget to deliver a pilot program in the way a wellbeing program should be delivered and then presenting the business case to the leadership team to gain a bigger budget for a roll-out of the pilot program.

Here are (5-7) reasons why you should try a Pilot Program.

Get started

Rather than fighting for years for the budget you know you’ll need to deliver a successful wellbeing program, a pilot program will allow you to get started with the budget you already have, or a smaller budget than the one you’ll need for the full scale program. A pilot will also show management that you are aware that they need to see a return from their investment and that you are willing to prove up the approach.

Prove up the approach

The multi-phase approach we use with our clients may not be a fit for your organisation (but I’m sure we can tailor it to suit your needs). Delivering a pilot will allow you to test the water and identify and challenges and areas for improvement before locking into a more long term wider strategy.

Test the partnership

Changing partners or choosing a new wellbeing partner is a time consuming process and one that you do not want to do too often. I recommend our clients partner with us for a minimum of three years so it is important that it is the right decision for both parties. By teaming up for a pilot program both sides have the opportunity to learn more about each other and test the relationship before partnering up long term.

Gauge staff engagement and participation in program

As well as testing the business relationships it is critical that your wellbeing program engages a high percentage of staff so that they participate in a program and it is a success. A pilot program will allow you to test your communication strategy, understand the way in which your employees like to receive content (ie, face to face or online) before rolling out the program.

Build the business case and gain budget approval

If you have designed and delivered your pilot program effectively you should have some very powerful data to help you build your business case for a longer term strategy to ensure the budget you have always dreamed of.
One last thing before I wrap up this post is to tell you that not all pilot programs are created equal. There is a process that you need to work through to ensure you pilot works. Here are the steps;

Strategic Intent

Determine what you are looking to achieve from the program, who will own the program and what are outcomes you are looking to achieve?

Current State Analysis

Do an audit of your current health and wellbeing programs and benefits to understand where you budget is being spent and how effective is each item is. Offer health checks as part of your pilot to understand what the health needs of your employees are as well as the risk profile of the business. Interview staff to understand their behavioural patterns.

Program Definition

Based on the health check results and staff interviews pick the top health issue (eg, nutrition, stress) and design as many targeted interventions as your pilot budget allows (the more you can do the better the outcomes). Agree how you will measure the outcomes of the program. At this stage your wellbeing partner should also be able to demonstrate the cost to the business due to health issues


Execute your interventions.

Reassess & Formal Review

Have participants take part in a follow up health check to measure health improvement. You may have also agreed other ways to measure the program like a staff survey. Using both sets of health check data and other measurement tools your wellbeing partner should be able to demonstrate health improvement and reduce risk and impact on the business.
For a more detailed information about these stages please contact me.
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