There is hardly any renowned organization that is operating without a wellness program in today’s day and age. Corporate wellness is the biggest and the most vital investment that an organization can make in the present economic and social scenario. By investing in these programs they are not only assisting in improving the physical and mental well-being of its employees but are also taking a proactive step towards a healthier, productive and more engaged workforce.
From fitness initiatives, healthy recipe contests, employee assistance programs, marathons to free health check-ups organisations have left no stone unturned in their pursuit to create unparalleled wellness programs for their employees.
Even though most organisations do have a wellness program in place the question that they still need to ask themselves is whether these programs are in line with the expectations of their employees.
Here are the top 5 things:
Tailor-made- Every employee has different physical and mental needs based on their age, gender, lifestyle etc. Most wellness programs are very generic in nature and work on the principal that “one size fits all”. However for a wellness program to be effective it needs to be personalised and need based. Even though that would be difficult to achieve in a large organisation, still there can be different wellness offerings for employees falling in different categories e.g.-pregnant women, people with high /low BMI, seniors, juniors etc.
Convenience - Employees are more motivated to be a part of wellness programs if they are convenient and easy to be a part of. Imagine a wellness program that provides free gym services however not in the same building where the employees are working versus free gym on the campus. No points for guessing the participation will be higher in which program. Google has done a fantastic job in this regard- their office at Mountain View California, USA has a slide for employees who don’t want to use the staircase in addition to having a pool, gym, ping pong tables and nap pods on the campus.
Part of organisation culture- For a wellness program to gather widespread participation and be successful, health and wellness need to be embedded in the companies culture .Let’s say an organisation is spending tons of money on rolling out wellness offerings however fails to offer a simple thing as healthy meals in the cafeteria at an affordable cost, that would only mean that the wellness program works on paper and not in the practical sense. Unless the company’s policies and leadership messaging promote a healthier lifestyle the same cannot be achieved through wellness initiatives.
Leadership Support- Employees can only be a part of initiatives when they are backed by their leader’s approval. That said, creating a healthier workplace is the joint responsibility of its leaders and its employees. In addition to allowing team members the flexibility to participate in such initiatives, leaders need to walk the talk when it comes to participating in these initiatives. Unless they themselves actively participate they cannot expect their teams to understand the significance of such programs. Fitbit believes in practicing what it preaches by participating in an initiative they call Work out Wednesdays in which everyone from the interns to the senior management participates in a variety of outdoor activities on every Wednesday.
Personal choice- Last and the most important factor that employees expect out of the wellness programs is that such programs shouldn’t be thrust upon them like any other policy or compulsory training that they are required to finish. Being a part of any wellness initiative should be left as a matter of personal choice to them .The idea is to propel them to choose a healthier lifestyle not to force them to be a part of initiatives against their will. Johnson and Johnson understands this perfectly.
When J&J found that the main driving force behind their employees choosing to lead a healthier life is their families they decided to use this to create a platform they call “Energy for performance in life” though which they teach their employees how to maximise the use of their energies at work and at home.
Whether big or small each organisation is outing its best foot forward in creating and implementing a corporate wellness program that adds value which can be measured in terms of employee and business outcomes.
The exact return on investment may be tough to calculate for such programs however they have made a difference by improving productivity, decreasing absenteeism and promoting a positive work environment. The need of the hour for organisations is to take a hard look at their existing programs and analyse whether they have been able to add the right value to their employees’ professional and personal lives.