Workplace Wellness Earns a Seat at the Big Kids’ Table

Workplace Wellness Earns a Seat at the Big Kids’ Table

Jude Carter

By, Jude Carter on Wednesday March 15, 2017

Remember when workplace wellness programs consisted of a few posters reminding you to stay away from donuts, or the occasional health fair put on by your insurance company? Well, those days are over. Sodexo just released their 2017 Global Workplace Trends report where they site wellness as one of the top 10 trends referring to it as “Wellness 3.0: the workplace as wellness destination”.

Workplace wellness programs have been around since the 70s. Typically they were run as piecemeal programs, involving short-lived campaigns. In the early days companies were focused on introducing these programs as a means to reduce absenteeism, improve productivity and cut insurance costs. Today more companies are incorporating wellness into their strategic objectives. By creating a culture of wellness, the goal is to improve the quality of life of their workers—-not just physical wellness, but financial and emotional wellness. At the same time, they are improving their ability to recruit good talent (especially millennials) and retain workers.

Employers are starting to see that there’s a connection between their worker’s well-being and their bottom line. According to The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, “Companies that focus on the well-being and safety of workers have, in multiple studies, consistently outperformed the stock market.”

There is a big difference between running a wellness “program” and creating a culture of wellness. Cultural change requires leadership commitment. According to Dr. David Ballard of the American Psychological Association, “Leaders in an organization must support a culture of well-being. Higher levels of employee well-being help drive organizational performance. And when a company is functioning well, it helps foster well-being – so it becomes a virtuous cycle that feeds itself.”

Silicon Valley companies have redefined what it means to create cultures that celebrate happy and healthy employees. The list of amenities is legendary including onsite doctors, free food, doggie daycare, massage therapists, sleep pods, liberal parental leave, communal bicycles, free haircuts and commuter shuttles.

While all that sounds great, for most companies this approach is not possible. Not to mention that it’s probably not a fit for your workforce. The good news is that you understand your company, your business and your goals. The best approach is to consider all of those factors when creating a culture of workplace wellness that is unique to you. Consider these success factors:

5 Success Factors for Creating a Culture of Workplace Wellness

Get the word out. Whether your company is large or small, or your wellness program is new or well-established, communication is key to getting everyone engaged. Use every channel you have to get the word out: email, intranet, digital signage, collaboration apps, bulletin boards, text messaging, etc. Consider the make-up of your workforce and the best way to reach them. Given how distracted everyone is, you’ll want to use multiple channels to maximize your chance of getting the message out.
What is it and why should I care?  All employees need to understand the breadth of your workplace wellness program, how it works and what is available to them. This includes any current in-house initiatives (weight loss, smoking cessation, stress reduction, etc.) and the associated rules of the game.
Walk the walk.  Are you consistent in your message and your actions? Does wellness make it on the agenda when your CEO does a town hall?  Do you include it in how you describe your culture to prospective employees? When you have an in-house initiative such as healthy eating, are you creating an environment for success? Consider what you stock in your vending machines and what you serve at company meetings or celebrations.
Celebrate success. Share the evidence of how your workplace wellness efforts are working. Recognize individuals and teams. This can come in many forms from first-level rewards such as t-shirts or gift cards, to certificates or spotlighting success at company events. Invite employees to share their stories. Post KPIs resulting in how the program impacted the company.
Keep it visual. Companies everywhere are using some form of digital signage or electronic bulletin boards as a high-impact communication tool. This is the perfect medium for educating, motivating and inspiring employees to embrace wellness. Harness the power of visual communication by:
-Posting video clips of your CEO talking about why wellness matters to your company’s success
-Sharing personal stories. Run a regular feature on “What Worked for Me” encouraging employees to submit short video clips telling their success stories.
-Measuring success. Use colorful, easy-to-read infographics or dashboards that display showing key metrics on how wellness has impacted the bottom line.
-Counting down to upcoming events such as the launch of new programs or Lunch & Learns from wellness practitioners in your area.
-Speaking to the “whole person” with wellness content that offers helpful tips for physical, emotional and financial wellness for workers at all stages in their lives and careers.

By employing these strategies, you’ll be on your way to making your workplace a “wellness destination”.

Thanks!