Corporate wellness has never been more popular. The wellness industry is evolving thus, helping corporations increase profit by taking care of their employees first. CEOs need to look beyond insurance programs and gym equipment if they want to maintain a healthy workforce. It is best to adopt an interdisciplinary approach in the development of a wellness program that will reflect a company’s distinct culture. Executives who want to lead the pack in this new era of corporate wellness know that a wellness program is more than spending money in helping employees quit smoking. It is about changing the corporate culture.
Is changing easy? No. Is it necessary? Yes. On an individual level, readiness to change entails behavioral and psychological readiness to take action. On a corporate level, it refers to an employee’s commitment to implement organizational change. So, if you are an executive how do you know what to expect from a wellness program? What should you consider before adopting a wellness program?
Resistance to participate
People will react. Employee privacy is a hot potato in implementing a wellness program. No one wants to provide information on his physical and mental health status. “Why are they asking?”, “My stress level is high. What does that tell my employer?”. Many employees will assume that monitoring and measuring their stress level and/or physical activity is part of a health risk program that may jeopardize their position. Privacy concerns is a great issue. It should be clear to employees that a wellness program aims in maintaining a healthier corporate culture.
Make it special
There is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to employees. A reason why employees do not participate in wellness programs is because they do not concern them. Every person is unique and should be treated as such in the workplace. Digital platforms are the best way to create a more personalized experience and encourage employees to provide adequate information. In large corporations where employees may feel undervalued, providing them with such a platform increases the feeling of “belonging” in a bigger family. Data obtained from digital platforms and trackers help to reshape wellness programs and reinforce employee commitment.
Keep it simple! People spend at least 8 hours of their day at work. During those 8 hours they experience anxiety, frustration, satisfaction, boredom -at some point, they are just tired. They do not need extra work at the end of day. They want to go home, have a good dinner and get some rest. If they are given something that requires extra effort and time, they will not do it. Integrate wellness technology with the technology your company uses. Make the task of physical and psychological screening attractive and fun.
Bring everything together
When corporate wellness programs were first introduced, the main focus was on helping employees reduce smoking or improve their diet habits. Back then, if you asked people to define wellness, they would reply in terms of physical health. Physical wellness involves nutrition, exercising, proactive behavior (i.e medical exams). It is easier to define and measure. Gathering data on the physical component of health is crucial in the development of any wellness program.
The psychological and emotional component is of great significance, as well. A low score in psychological health may have a profound effect on an employee’s physical health and job performance. There is a growing literature on productivity and job satisfaction which is defined by how people feel about aspects of their jobs. According to research, when companies implement wellness programs, employees report higher levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment. A successful wellness program is considered successful when it manages to bring together all aspects of an employee’s physical and mental health status. The company is likely to benefit since employees tend to reciprocate with increased productivity.
Commitment and Planning
CEOs and executives should lead the way. A wellness program is about making employees feel better. Asking them to wear a fitness tracker or fill in self-report data because “the company says so” is not going to work long term. Chances are that employees will be more eager to participate, if their employers are engaged in the program as well.
The best way to develop a wellness program is to seek professional advice. It is best for a company to hire experts to analyze employee population, needs, hazards and occupational goals. A good vendor combines knowledge on different areas (management, nutrition, psychology, confidentiality issues, research protocols) with technological expertise to provide with an optimal wellness program.
Corporate wellness is the new best thing in management and is a part of any successful business model. New, sophisticated technology combined with increased insight in employees’ wellness will replace the traditional form of wellness programs. Companies will, inevitably, drift away from the old-fashioned health assessment to a more holistic approach in the workplace.
Sophia Vassiliades, M.A. Clininal Psychologist/Counselor.