“How Do I Start a Workplace Wellness Program…?”
The conversation of how to properly execute a workplace wellness program can get quite confusing. And, frankly, most programs don’t do anything more than cost money with no tangible results after months, or years, of effort.
The reason? The vast majority of wellness programs at work aren’t all encompassing programs. They may be employer sponsored gym memberships, or weight loss challenges, or free Fitbits, etc., but most programs are missing one or more of the key elements to ensure success and a positive ROI.
It’s important to be aware of two things before diving in.
One: We humans are the only mammal species on the planet that intentionally isolates itself from its tribe and locks itself in cages all day. This is a huge problem for all other species on the planet and we are no exception!
Two: Employees spend the most time throughout the week at work—locked inside—away from their tribe. Employers have an immense amount of power and influence then toward either health or disease. The effort is the same either way! With great power comes great responsibility. Yes I just quoted the late Stan Lee from Spiderman! It is the responsibility of the employer to communicate a message of health rather than disease. Everybody wins when this happens.
What a Program Foundation Needs to Be Successful:
This is where most programs fall short. They encourage weight loss through a competition between employees, but neglect to show them how to lose weight in a healthy way. And don’t encourage or educate them on how, or even why, to keep the weight off. These programs will fail the majority of the time.
My team educates through monthly newsletters, monthly or quarterly LIVE events, and monthly live webinars. We don’t use trendy information. Instead, the backbone of sustainable health lies in evolutionary evidence. We educate on not only how the body works, but why it works this way; providing easy, actionable steps for everyday life.
If employees are motivated intrinsically to be healthy, the employer will have an easy time with wellness at work. I’ve never personally participated in a workplace wellness program because I’ve been a competitive athlete since I was 13 years old. I’ve always inspired myself and didn’t look for an employer to do this for me. The program needs to inspire action from within.
When we hear and see stories of people like us that have had success, we are more likely to take the same actions in hopes of seeing similar results. Which is why we start by sharing stories from other companies and people outside of the workplace in our live events and webinars.
As employees start having success within the business, we start sharing their stories. Health, wellness, and an abundance mindset then become contagious so that the program accelerates naturally.
Humans are motivated to avoid pain and seek reward. Wellness programs that provide a bit of both work better than those that don’t include this element. Humans also know when to cut their losses and return to a state of less effort. This is the reason we shouldn’t put competition against one another into a program. It’s always best to compete against ourselves with a reward if we win and a bit of “pain” if we don’t. Incentives provided by the employer are the best source of motivation here.
We encourage a budget for incentives for each employee that elects to participate. I have too many options to list here on how we have structured programs with this element. The key is to ensure everyone has an opportunity to win. If the contest pits all employees against one another, and one employee gets a huge early start, the program may be dis-incentivizing the others because of our cut-our-losses response. The employees may actually sabotage their own health, then, because they can’t possibly win the incentive. All of our programs include incentives where all that participate can win.
What a Program Needs to Include Elements of For Successful ROI:
START AT THE TOP – This is plain and simple. If we don’t have CEO and executive leadership team involvement, the program will be far less effective. The CEO and leadership teams should be setting the example. Period. Either get healthy before the program starts or come along with us. Either option is appropriate, but not doing one or the other is unacceptable.
NOT CONTRADICT ITSELF – A true wellness culture doesn’t allow or tolerate things that are in extreme conflict with health. For this reason, a well-designed program will NOT ALLOW soda machines, weekly donuts, smoking on campus, snack machines with candy bars in them, etc. Anything in conflict with health will be eliminated and discouraged on a daily basis. We have suggestions to fill these gaps with healthy, sustainable, delicious alternatives.
INCLUDE ALL EMPLOYEES – We include everyone! No weight loss challenges! By educating and motivating the ACTION, we find the results are inevitable. By showing the employees how to be healthy, why they should want to be healthy, and topping it off with an incentive just to take the action, the results are always positive and in the best interest of everyone involved. Gym membership reimbursement is great, but are you also reimbursing yoga, pilates, jiu jitsu, or paddle boarding? All of those should be considered and our programs ensure it.
MOTIVATE THROUGH INCENTIVES – We’ve already talked a bit about this. We help find a budget and ensure extra external motivation will help inspire action. And action equals results. Incentives may include vacations, reduced healthcare costs, extra time off, a nicer office, company car lease, etc. We have dozens of unique ideas to fit almost any company size and budget.
MEASURE SOMETHING – Let’s face it, if you aren’t measuring something then you never really know if you are on target or just throwing money away. We encourage and help track the measuring of productivity, sick time, tardiness, turnover, biometric screening results, and reduced healthcare claims. All of which are positively affected through employee action toward health.
How will a program affect the business, then? A well designed program should have a return on investment and most do not! Our programs have a positive ROI because we will incorporate all of the elements above even in our smaller programs. We measure baseline productivity, sick leave and absenteeism, health care spending (if available), biometric screening, retention and turnover, employee happiness, and engagement. Employers can and should see the following ROI (**):
- 27% reduced sick leave and absenteeism
- 26% reduction in health care spending
- 12% reduction in workplace induced stress
- 8% increase in productivity
- 67% increase in morale and engagement
- 45% improvement in employee retention
- 89% increase in happiness
- and an overall 581% ROI !!!
** Data from the American Journal of Health Promotion, The Economist Intelligence Unit & Humana National Business Group on Health Report, Principal Financial Well-Being Index.
Bottom line: healthy people are better to be around, sick less often, and produce more work with a smile on their face!
We have teams around the country and around the world that help us with weekly execution and one-on-one coaching.
Our Programs Include all of the Elements Above and May Include the Following…
One-on-one personalized coaching with a world renowned coach
On-site fitness trainers (weights, cardio, yoga, pilates, kettle bells, etc.)
Financial coaching (including household budgeting and investing)
Off-site events (martial arts, lake or ocean activities, skiing, etc.)