Worksite wellness has gotten a bad rap recently and for good reason. Most employers aren’t setting a wellness strategy, deploying the right resources and engaging employees. If you invest in wellness but don’t invest wisely, you can spend a lot of your precious time, energy and money having a wellness program that doesn’t produce results AND that employees don’t even like.
Hi, I’m Jen. After many years of implementing traditional wellness programming and not seeing success, I knew there had to be a better way to help employees improve their wellbeing. I set out on a mission to figure out why the corporate wellness industry is so trapped in outdated thinking and find new ways of thinking about employee wellbeing.
My 18 years of experience building wellness programs (and screwing them up), coupled with over 100 podcast interviews with experts and passion for helping employees live healthy lives makes me uniquely qualified to help you integrate wellbeing into your organization.
If you take a strategic approach to building your worksite wellness program, great things CAN happen. You start shifting your culture into one of well-being. Your employees know you care about them and their health. Employees engage and make health changes. Health risks go down. Productivity and Presenteeism goes up. You can better recruit and retain employees. You see measurable results you can brag about to senior leadership and other employers. Sounds great, right?
Worksite wellness should be treated just like any other business initiative in your company. Unfortunately, it rarely gets the attention it deserves. Often the responsibilities are thrown on an overworked HR person who already has too much on their plate.
Wellness turns into haphazard activities, the same people participating and maybe the occasional Biggest Loser contest. Then you pray you’ll find something in your annual healthcare claims that shows a positive ROI. That’s not the way results happen!
Employees are adults that want to be treated like adults. No one likes to be told what to do by anyone, much less their employer. The minute you make your employees “do” wellness activities, they may comply but they certainly won’t be engaged.
If your work culture doesn’t support well-being, your wellness efforts will fall flat. This means if you are talking a good game but the actions aren’t aligning, your employees won’t buy in. Here’s just a few examples – providing junk food to departments during stressful times, not allowing time away to take a walk and not asking your employees what they want.
Employees engage when you ask them what they want and actually listen to them. Providing wellness topics they have interest in and creating the environment for them to be healthier is the base of wellness that doesn’t often happen.
So, how do you build a wellness program your employees like AND that gets results?
Seeing results from your wellness program takes a focused effort. It all comes down to understanding where you are, where you want to go, engaging your employees and measuring results.
I’ve seen various perspectives of worksite wellness. I’ve managed wellness programs at three different employers, which gave me the experience and understanding of what it takes to build a successful wellness program. I’ve been through challenges with senior leadership, organized health fairs and walking programs. I’ve had programs that were a hit with employees and those that I had to cancel because no one attended. Through these experiences I learned a lot because I had to. There was no one guiding me, so everything was a built from scratch experiment.
In my 8 plus years in the employer insurance market, I’ve consulted hundreds of employers in various industries. Many employers seemed interested in wellness. They would ask for a 3-year wellness strategy and I would get excited thinking I could really help them get their employees healthy.
I’d hand them over a strategy based on what I knew about the group, the wellness industry and best practices. Then I’d check in with them after 6 months and guess what happened?
Nothing! Many times all of my hard work would sit unused and the group’s priority seemed to shift to something else.
Wait….these employers seemed really excited about having a successful wellness program yet nothing happened when I wasn’t either doing it for them or checking in with them frequently. That got me thinking….what was the problem? Here’s what I found:
As employees, we spend more time at work than with our families. Although we get up each day to earn a paycheck, most people want to believe their employers care about them and their well-being. An investment in your employees’ health and happiness can return itself through employer loyalty and productivity.
Think about it….aren’t you more likely to go above and beyond for someone who has invested time and energy in you?
A wellness program doesn’t have to be something employees dread or feel they have to do. It can be a user designed experience that promotes self leadership and positive personal motivation.