Business Management
4 min read

8 steps for implementing successful behavior change programs

EHL Insights
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  • These outcomes lead to lower absenteeism, higher productivity, and better overall performance and work satisfaction among employees.
  • To work effectively, a Behavior Change Program must be well-researched, customized to suit the organization, and continually measured for improvement.


In 2023, it's no secret that the wellbeing and health of employees are differentiating factors in a company's success, regardless of its goals, size, and industry.

Corporate leaders increasingly recognize that a happy and engaged team is essential for achieving sustainable long-term success. In this context, the implementation of a Behavior Change Program, centered around workplace health and wellbeing, has become a key component.

In this article, we will explore the key strategies for carrying out a successful behavior change program in the business context.


What is a behavior change program?

A Behavior Change Program is a strategy designed to help individuals adopt positive and healthy habits and behaviors. These types of programs can be applied in various areas such as psychological therapy and education, but in this case, we will analyze them within the workplace environment.

To understand Behavior Change Programs, it's important to know their main goal: facilitating the transition from unwanted behaviors to more beneficial patterns of action, thus promoting improved wellbeing and the achievement of specific objectives.

Ultimately, these programs acknowledge the importance of motivation, education, and support in the process of transforming behaviors, thereby contributing to personal growth and improved quality of life.

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What to expect from a behavior change program?

In 2013, the multinational medical industry company Johnson & Johnson embarked on an ambitious Behavior Change Program based on the comprehensive health and well-being of its employees.

The program focused on promoting healthy behaviors and providing resources to help employees make positive changes in their lifestyles.

Physical fitness challenges, healthy eating initiatives, stress management workshops, and support for smoking cessation were some of the efforts in this action plan. The program also provided employees with access to well-being resources, personalized guidance, and tools to track their progress.

Analyzing the benefits reported by Johnson & Johnson ten years after the program's initiation allows us to understand the overall advantages of a Behavior Change Program:


Health risk reduction

Over the course of several years, employees who participated in the program experienced significant reductions in health risks, including lower smoking rates, decreased blood pressure, and improved cholesterol levels. 

Healthcare cost savings

Johnson & Johnson estimated that for every dollar invested in the program, they saved around $2.71 in healthcare costs due to reduced absenteeism and lower medical expenses.

Increased productivity

Employees who adopted healthier behaviors reported higher levels of productivity, improved job performance, and greater job satisfaction.

Cultural shift

The program fostered a culture of well-being within the company, resulting in greater camaraderie among employees and increased support for each other's health goals.


Program Implementation: From Diagnosis to Measurement

The implementation process of a Behavior Change Program involves several fundamental steps.


1. Preliminary diagnosis

To conduct a preliminary diagnosis for implementing a Behavior Change Program in a company, start by assessing current behaviors, employee engagement levels, and key performance indicators.

Review existing wellbeing initiatives, survey employee opinions, and identify pain points. Analyze absenteeism, productivity, and health-related data.

Also, evaluate communication channels and available resources. This comprehensive evaluation will provide the necessary foundation for designing an effective Behavior Change Program tailored to the company's specific needs and challenges.


2. Stakeholder engagement

The success of any behavior change program depends on the commitment of stakeholders. In the case of health and wellbeing leadership programs, active involvement of executives and leaders is crucial to create a culture of wellbeing.

By involving leaders in promoting the program, a clear message of support and commitment is sent. For instance, a study by Harvard Business Review revealed that visible leadership and personal commitment increase the likelihood of success in workplace wellness programs.


3. Definition of desired behaviors and outcomes

This step involves identifying specific areas that need attention, such as stress management, adopting healthy lifestyle habits, and achieving work-life balance.

For example, promoting regular physical activity among employees can lead to overall health improvement and work productivity enhancement. According to a report from the World Health Organization, workplace wellness programs can increase productivity by 12%.


4. Build a plan and share it with stakeholders

A structured approach is essential for achieving lasting behavior changes. Developing a comprehensive plan that includes specific strategies, resources, and timelines is crucial.

This could involve creating training sessions, workshops, and interactive activities that address topics like time management, nutrition, and relaxation. An example is incorporating yoga and meditation sessions to enhance stress resilience and focus in the workplace.


5. At the same time, build a communication plan

Communication plays a crucial role in promoting a behavior change program. Creating awareness and understanding among employees about the program's importance is essential.

Using different communication channels such as emails, intranet, and meetings can help effectively spread the message.

Incorporating relevant statistics about workplace wellness benefits, such as a 25% reduction in absenteeism, can generate greater interest and commitment among employees.


6. Training and skill development

Providing training and resources for skill development is essential to empower employees on their behavior change journey.

Personal development workshops, coaching sessions, and access to online resources can facilitate the acquisition of new skills.

For example, offering courses on stress management and communication improvement can help employees effectively deal with challenges and enhance their overall well-being.


7. Progress monitoring and feedback

A good leader helps implement behavior changes that can be monitored before, during, and after an action plan.

Continuous progress monitoring is crucial to ensure the program's effectiveness. Collecting data and evaluating results help identify areas that require adjustments and improvements.

Additionally, providing ongoing feedback to participants acknowledges their efforts and maintains their commitment.

For instance, tracking indicators like improved job satisfaction and reduced stress can provide valuable insights into the program's impact.

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Final Thoughts & Resources

As you can appreciate, a Behavior Change Plan is a structured work project that needs to be developed cohesively across its various stages and with a focus on measurement.

Furthermore, it's a plan that should be structured considering the specific needs of each organization. Starting with a diagnosis and defining specific objectives helps meet this requirement during the project's development.

Do you want to design an effective Behavior Change Plan for your organization?

We invite you to get in touch with EHL Advisory Services, which offers comprehensive solutions and resources to help businesses implement these types of programs, using the expertise and experience of subject experts and professional consultants located around the world.

You can also upskill to lead this type of project with EHL Online Courses that focus on leadership strategy for improving performance and well-being in the workplace.

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