When people hear of some new technique that management is anxiously implementing, the same comments are heard in organizations around the world: “This is not going to work because we’ve tried this before and it didn’t work” or “It is another fad that those in charge are adopting.” Yes, it may be a new buzzword, but is it just another fad? Why can’t organizations get it right?
We believe corporate wellness techniques are considered fads because running a successful sustainable company requires great leadership and often management generally is unaware of what is required or doesn’t have the skill to run a viable long term organization.
In fairness, running a successful corporate wellness program is not easy, nor is it simple. Just because you’re a great cook doesn’t mean that if you open a restaurant it will be successful for the long term. Your company has to be financially viable, provide good to great customer service, engage your employees, provide a safe work environment, run an ethical company, be a healthy workplace, be inclusive and the list goes on. So when something new comes up they try it because they have to do something.
Proponents of corporate wellness also talk about how energized employees become and how that positively impacts the organization. They work better, faster etc. There is no doubt of these findings but there are two caveats that need to be considered. The first and perhaps less profound is that it is hard to sustain this frenzy unless the company’s wellness culture is all encompassing. The second and more important is just because you are able to get people to work faster; it doesn’t mean that what they are doing is the right things or that the process they are following is the most efficient. That is similar to an organization having a potential Olympic silver medalist in the 100-meters working in their warehouse and through their workplace wellness programs the person becomes a potential gold medalist. The company now believes this person will produce more because they’re more engaged. They may or may not see a more engaged worker but in reality the organization needs to discuss how to become more efficient in the medium to long term; it’s not a 50 yard dash. Something is missing and thus our lead in to the future of corporate wellness.
Today, more and more companies are recognizing the need for a “wellness” division that focuses solely on the constant improvement of the health and wellness of their employees. As previously mentioned, for a corporate wellness plan to be effective and sustainable, it must be comprehensive including health assessments, fitness programs and offer sound dietary nutrition programs that are made readily available to all employees. Food, is the single most fundamental thing we do as humans to stay alive and function at high levels, and yet, it’s the area that most people fall short on largely because of hectic lifestyles that, unfortunately, transcends to our younger generation as they learn this poor behavior from their parents.
In my opinion, continuous education and implementing a penalty-based health and wellness system, is necessary to engage, not just the willing healthy employees, but the employees that really need it most and who skew the health assessment results that ultimately drives up premium rates. Creating culture of wellness will positively transcend into the personal lives of employees impacting their families and perpetuating positive healthy habits instead of poor ones.
Easier said than done, huh?
This is why programs must be comprehensive offer rewards and penalties to create an “outcome-based” program, rather than just a “participant-based” program. Companies want ALL their employees to embraces health and wellness not just those who decide to participate, which is always the health-nuts, anyway. Sound nutrition is the best place to start. By offering employees healthy meal options and making it easy for them to make the right choices, is by far, the best place to start. Healthy eating habits easily trumps exercise and relaxation and it also makes you want to continue to embrace other wellness activities when you start feeling good.
Nutrition is the single most critical component when forging any corporate wellness plan. When coupled with a comprehensive strategy, companies can see increased productivity, lower insurance premiums and a culture that thrives on wellness and a passion for success – impacting bottom line results.
By Peter Cianci,
Corporate Wellness Director