Designing an effective wellness strategy for your employees
Attempts to improve wellness at the workplace are always a major challenge in today’s world that is beset with physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Each of these factors has detrimental effects on employee wellness with consequences resulting in reduced productivity, increased absenteeism and rise of serious health issues - both physical and mental.
According to an ASSOCHAM report, the formal sector of India can save up to $20 billion each year through 1 percent reduction in absenteeism alone. Employees can be safeguarded against lifestyle and many other chronic diseases by adopting a strategically-designed effective corporate wellness program. However, over 52% respondents admitted that their organizations have no wellness programs. Meanwhile, 62% of employees in companies with such programs stated that it needs improvement.
Image Credits: The Fuller Life
A majority of companies are trying their best to create a healthy, happy and engaged workplace. Wipro runs a number of wellness programs that include nutrition consulting, health centres, medical camps, and employee wellbeing events. Infosys emphasizes on a holistic approach to promote a positive environment through collaborative care on wellness among its employees. In fact, a growing number of multinational corporations as well as SMEs are expanding their wellness schemes to combat various health issues around the world.
However, in spite of spending time, effort and money on employee wellness, companies are still unsure about the effectiveness of their programs. This clearly indicates a chasm in the way companies have been taking up the issue of employee wellness and how it is perceived by employees.
Well, it’s time to take a deep look into the problem. Based on their extensive experience of working and interacting with several employees in a span of 17 years, corporate wellness management company, ‘The Fuller Life’, specializes in creating effective wellness strategies customized to the company’s needs. They emphasize the challenges that are encountered while creating various wellness and engagement initiatives for their clients. Some of the major impediments identified by The Fuller Life are:
• Absence of a clear philosophy for the wellness initiative - Stakeholders need to agree (and document) what the initiative does, why does it do it and, equally important, what the initiative does not do
•Low awareness - Most employees do not know the new initiatives that are being launched. It is time to move beyond email and posters.
• Inconsistent engagement and low adoption rate – These are usually attributed to challenges related to branding and communication strategy. But some of this may stem from not having a credo for the plan. Far more complex challenges lie in the area of structuring the hierarchy of the brands involved (e.g. company brand, wellness plan brand, the particular effort (say, a run) and possibly the other teams involved, like CSR).
• Lack of clear metrics - Challenges in collating data across multiple service providers, having multiple goalposts to gun for and not knowing what the key metrics are, all result in a too much data but not much information.
Similarly, when it comes to implementation, organizations face their fair share of challenges ranging from mobilizing internal support, , predictability, getting leaders involved and customization to get the desired results.
The Fuller Life helps in addressing these challenges for their clients and recommends a more structured approach while designing an effective corporate wellness strategy. Their specialization in designing and deploying wellness programs across industries gives HR a vantage point across industries and saves bandwidth while generating usable metrics. They have customized offerings based on varied wellness requirements from corporates ranging from running events to employee helplines to health checks and HRAs. They holistically plan the entire wellness and engagement strategy across multiple years.
Having a program manager like The Fuller Life who has the requisite domain expertise, design skills, tech ability and deployment bones helps manage your internal and external partners and stakeholders and goes a long way in achieving the desired results.
But how exactly can organizations determine how the program is achieving the desired results?
The Fuller Life advocates the following metrics which organizations should focus on when determining the success of the program.
• Awareness- The first most important metric is how many people are aware of the program?
• Adoption- The next metric which determines the success of the program is how many people took part in the program?
• Results- Thirdly, the most important question-did the participants find that the program worked for them?
• Advocacy- Lastly, have the participants encouraged their colleagues to participate?
And while these are the most important data points that matter, other intangible benefits which the company can take into account while measuring the ROI are whether it had an impact on the wellbeing of the employees. Are they happier? Do they feel healthier? Has their productivity and engagement levels improved? Some of this data might just be anecdotal, and that is fine to begin, but as time goes by, you can collate it better.
While for every company, the cornerstones to measure the success of the program may vary, what does not vary is the one solid truth of today - the fact that ‘Health and wellness’ is the new fuel for driving the successful corporate India of tomorrow.
Today, creating a workplace that integrates a total health and wellness model into every aspect of the business is imperative. An effective wellness program helps build credibility and trust within employees and enhance organizational productivity and job satisfaction. In short, it not only empowers the employees to have a fuller life but also secures a secure long term sustainable competitive advantage for the organization.
(The article is based on insights from research done by The Fuller Life on the challenges faced by organizations when starting off their wellness programs.)