Unions are under increasing pressure due to declining membership and changes in the way Americans work. An article published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) states, “Despite growing popular support for unions and unrest among many members, union ranks continue to thin.” According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, unions lost 321,000 members between 2019 and 2020. One of the reasons for the decline, according to SHRM, is an “increasingly transient workforce” that makes it harder for unions to establish relationships with workers.
How can unions mitigate the impact of a changing workforce? One great opportunity is to look for ways to increase value for the member, not just in terms of work environment and salary negotiations, but also in terms of an improved quality of life outside the workplace. Offering a personalized habit change experience is a great place to start.
What does it mean to personalize habit change?
Most wellness and health improvement programs are designed around standard curriculum, much like a traditional classroom. Everyone begins on day one of the first assignment and then progresses through the material. For some, portions of the material might be meaningful and lead to positive change. But for many, that’s not the case. This is evident in the fact that so many members lose motivation and interest in union-sponsored wellness programs within just a few months of its launch. In many cases, participants lose motivation because they aren’t seeing the type of results they expected or they think the program is just too hard. Regardless of the reason, any short-term improvements may quickly be lost.
That’s where personalization comes into play. Rather than offering members a standard one-size-fits-all curriculum-based program, they need a program that is curated just for them. This means content and tactics designed around their unique goals, needs, and lifestyle. For example, one person may have a healthy diet but, due to a desk job, have trouble getting more than 2,000 daily steps. Another may be an exercise fanatic but can’t walk past a cookie jar without grabbing a handful. Yet another may do well with eating and working out but they just don’t have as much energy as they’d like. In a personalized habit change program, each of these individual’s plans will look somewhat different, each focusing on different changes at different times based on the participant’s unique needs.
Learn how Shon’s experience with personalized habit change made all the difference. Click here to read.
Another benefit of personalization is that it takes into consideration a member’s personality and preferences. Some people enjoy group exercises while others prefer to work out alone. Some enjoy cooking while others detest spending time in the kitchen. Accommodating these preferences is critical to success. Forcing a person who dislikes cooking to prepare meals at home won’t achieve long-term health improvements. The plan must fit the participant. There are countless ways to adapt a program for every personality and lifestyle.
Insight from Genetics to Guide Behavior Change
Genetic testing is another way to personalize a habit change program. We now know that DNA makeup can influence a person’s ability to achieve optimal health. For instance, our genes determine how our bodies break down fat, which can make it more challenging for some to lose or gain weight. Individuals with this genetic makeup may need a more rigorous workout plan to boost metabolism. The presence of another genetic marker influences an individual’s appetite, which can make it harder for them to recognize when they’re full. Eating slower and more mindfully might be a focus in this person’s plan. A third influential genetic marker regulates a person’s stress-related cravings. This person’s plan might include stress-reduction tactics like deep breathing and getting more sleep.
Coaching Makes an Impact
Of all the factors in a personalized habit change program, coaching and accountability are of the highest importance. These make up a dynamic duo that can make or break a participant’s ability to be successful. Research shows that coaching improves outcomes, reduces costs and hospitalizations, and leads to significant weight loss. While some coaching programs offer variations of coaching, the most successful are those that match the coach to the participant based on personality. For example, an outgoing, Type A personality may prefer a coach who is more direct and assertive. But another type of personality may find this type of coaching to be intimidating. This person may do better with someone who offers calm encouragement. Coaches typically stay with a participant throughout the program so having a positive relationship from the beginning will make the program more enjoyable and successful.
Coaches are also important to success because they help hold participants accountable. They can regularly review goals, suggest changes when things aren’t working, and help participants work through doubt or those inevitable plateaus.
Another way to create a more personalized habit change program is through technology. AI and machine learning identify the most effective tactics for behavior change for the individual. For example, these technologies can pinpoint when a participant is most likely to track progress in their program’s smartphone app, when they prefer to work out, and when the person is most likely to step on a smart scale. Over time, these technologies make the program even more effective by working hand-in-hand with connected health devices to create a more personalized experience. You can learn more about best practices in leveraging hyper-personalization to support habit change, check out our guide here.
Putting it all together
Members want to know they can trust unions to invest in their health and well-being, even outside of the workplace. Adding a personalized habit change program to the list of great benefits unions already provide can strengthen union loyalty and member satisfaction. It’s also a great way for to reduce medical costs across the board. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Click here to learn more about how Newtopia delivers its personalized habit change program.