One-off health checks, adhoc chair massages, & a tired looking fruit bowl in the staff tea room.
These are some of the typical ‘wellness programs’ I see when visiting workplaces across Australia.
These scattergun programs are typically ‘run off the side of the desk’ by an enthusiastic but overloaded staff member, who is battling to juggle the coordination of wellness activities with their ‘real’ job.
The senior management of such organisations obviously believe employee wellness is important. However, without the rigor required, sadly such programs will only ever be viewed as a ‘perk’ or ‘nice-to-have’. Most importantly, they won’t get the best ‘bang for the wellness buck’.
Sounds familiar? To avoid this, you need to think strategically about your wellness program. In other words, you need to integrate the program into the ‘DNA’ of your organisation.
This will ensure the best possible wellness outcomes for your employees, & subsequently, the organisation’s bottom line. But most critically, it will ensure your wellness program stands the test of time. So, how do you de-fluff your wellness program?
Our Top 5 Tips
Tip #1. Ensure Your Program Hits the Mark
Before embarking on a program, you must have a clear understanding of the needs & interests of your employees. If you organise a yoga class, don’t expect employees to just turn up. Talk to your people first!
Tip #2. Have a Plan
Whilst this may seem obvious, a well thought out wellness plan, aligned to employees needs & your organisational strategy is critical. This will ultimately serve as your ‘roadmap’ to a successful & sustainable program.
Tip #3. Ensure Sufficient Budget & Resources
A wellness program is not going to run itself! Whilst there are many low cost options that can be delivered under the wellness banner, resources still need to be invested to achieve maximum participation & results. Smart investment in quality staff & /or programs will be critical for your program’s success.
Tip #4. Have Realistic Measures for Success
To eradicate the ‘nice-to-have’ tag, you will need to demonstrate the impact of your wellness efforts, both for employees & the organisation. To do this, you will need to define & establish measurable goals as part of your program planning. But, be warned! Ensure expectations are set at a realistic level. Whilst positive changes can occur within a few months of implementing a wellness program (e.g. improved staff morale), research & experience suggests the full economic benefits will take 3+years to be realised.1 Hence, such programs should be viewed as an investment in your organisation’s human capital.
Tip #5. Spruke the Benefits!
Finally, you need to advocate, advocate & advocate! Whilst sometimes you might feel like a broken record, you need to constantly communicate the benefits of your program, both to employees & key stakeholders. Don’t miss an opportunity to celebrate program milestones or successes with ‘good news’ stories in your newsletter, intranet, local media, or even better, via your CEO.
1. Health, Work & Wellbeing U.K. (2008) ‘Building the Case for Wellness’ [online], Available:http://www.workingforhealth.gov.uk/documents/dwp-wellness-report-public.pdf