The Change Model and your wellbeing strategy

Encouraging change within a team can be challenging. Some people will be enthusiastic, others may be less keen, and a big chunk of them will usually fall somewhere in the middle.

The Stages of Change Model is an approach to behaviour change that can help people assess the situation and help with strategy development to help make the change a reality. It recognises that change is a process not an event, and that it may take some people longer than others to get on board.

Take a look at how the five stages of change model can work in the context of your workplace health program:

Precontemplation – not yet ready to start

In this stage, people do not intend on taking action to start their change journey in the foreseeable future. Education support needs to be available to encourage the individual into the next stage on their terms.

Contemplation –start to think about current behaviour and how it could be negatively affecting health

This is a great time to offer your people a health check. This can help them start to think about their lifestyle habits and highlight any issues which could be affecting their health. This may be the catalyst they need to begin making a change.

Preparation –start making changes for the better but not consistently

In this stage, people are ready to take action towards behaviour change, but they may need some help to trial healthy lifestyle changes. This could require some support and resources to kick start the healthy behaviour. For example, if people want to try and get more movement  into their day, there may be ways the environment can change to enable this, including standing desks, walking meetings, and using stairs.

Action – continued time and energy on changes to maintain a habit of healthy behaviours

In this stage, having recently changed their behaviour, people need to plan to keep this change going. This stage can be tricky because an individual needs to make a habit of their new behaviour. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found the time it takes for a change to become a regular habit can take anywhere between 18 and 254 days. So it is important to keep the momentum going during this time to avoid early relapses. Encouraging motivation with a team challenge or providing incentives for hitting milestones may help.

Maintenance – habits maintained for a while now and integrated into day-to-day life with work to help prevent relapse into old habits

This is when people have sustained their behaviour change for 6 months or more and plan to keep this change going. It is a time to review long-term goals, consolidate rewards reaped, and build up a toolkit of resources to help overcome barriers in difficult situations.

Implications for your strategy

When building your program and setting KPIs, make sure you consider that your people could be at any stage of the model during your initiatives. For example, while you may launch a program in April, someone might not want to take part until September.

This is why it’s important to ensure resources and information to support team members as they start the change journey are available at all times. Similarly, your KPIs for participation need to reflect the fact that people will enter the journey at different times.

Sources

Boston University School of Public Health. Behavioural Change Models [Online; last updated April 2016; accessed March 2017] Available from: www.sphweb.bumc.edu

Harvard Health Publications. Why it’s hard to change unhealthy behaviour – and why you should keep trying [Online; last updated Jun 2009; accessed Nov 2015] Available from: www.health.harvard.edu

Lally P van Jaarsveld CHM Potts HWW et al. How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology. 2010; 40: 998–1009.