Our upcoming white paper: Intrinsic Motivation: The Foundation of Outstanding Well-Being Programs delves into the science supporting this model. Here’s an excerpt with steps to shift your programming in an intrinsic direction starting today.
- Find out what obstacles employees face (they don’t feel they have enough time or they perceive activities as too costly) and address them in your programming and materials.
- Use positive messages that build confidence. “Registering is your first step to success!” is an encouraging call to action for a walking campaign. “You can do it; we can help” will fire up potential health coaching participants.
- Consider incremental programs that allow participants to build on skills and confidence acquired by previous successes. A physical activity program with different sessions for walkers, joggers, and more serious runners is an example.
- Focus on immediate rewards. For physical activity, promote feeling energized and upbeat rather than preventing heart disease or losing weight. To encourage healthy eating, emphasize the great taste of healthy food rather than disease prevention.
- Make it easy to participate in groups. Voluntary team-based campaigns are a way to do this. Another idea: At the end of group events such as lunch ’n learns, have the facilitator encourage attendees to form support groups or accountability partnerships to keep each other on track.
- Don’t promote any program incentives as the main reason to participate. Reinforce the potential joy of joining, not the extrinsic reward.
- Provide skill-building activities, like cooking classes or how to get started with fitness habits.
- Partner with providers that are knowledgeable about intrinsic motivation and build it into their products and communication tools. Ask how they enhance self-efficacy, autonomy, and relatedness into their services.
- Share participation and outcomes data tied to testimonials that convey emotion and gratitude. Some who may be sitting on the fence about participating will increase self-efficacy by seeing the success of others.
- Incorporate decisional balance sheets into self-directed programs or coaching. These are simple templates — you can make them yourself — in which participants record their pros and cons.
Don’t feel you have to implement all of these or address every aspect of every intrinsic motivation theory. Choose a few ideas that make the most sense for you and your population. In general, as you make program plans, keep in mind that good outcomes are rooted in participants’:
- Belief that the pros of making a change outweigh the cons
- Confidence in their ability to change
- Sense of autonomy and accountability
- Social support.
Look for the white paper, Intrinsic Motivation: The Foundation of Outstanding Well-Being Programs, in October to learn more.