What to Consider If Hiring a Chief Wellness Officer

Like all brand-new positions, there is so much opportunity for the remit and role of a Chief Wellness Officer. Also like all brand-new positions, understanding what it does and doesn’t entail is critical for its success. Setting up key objectives and identifying key challenges and opportunities before a job description is written, is crucial.

In our first article, we explained why the role of Chief Wellness Officer is becoming increasingly popular. In the second article, we’ll address the top considerations to make if hiring for a dedicated wellness position.

  1. Engagement Levels
    Coming out of the pandemic, organizations have the opportunity to put all of their well-intentioned engagement efforts to use. To get it right, programs should align to what employees care about, be scalable and be sustainable. So where do wellness programs fit in?

    When thinking about the six key dimensions of wellness (physical, emotional, financial, social, occupational, and purpose), there is a lot of overlap with the efforts HR, marketers and other leaders put in place to reach employees over the last year. So, companies must consider how effective those programs were to adopt them (or not) to wellness initiatives. That said, wellness programs take it up a notch by offering something tangible. Wellness can’t be achieved without an employee getting something in return and by them playing an active role. Wellness is personal and requires participation but still plays by many of the same rules of engagement initiatives.

  2. Inclusive Workforces
    As the public gets vaccinated and life begins to resemble “normal”, it’s important for all wellness programs to be inclusive of people’s unique working environments.

    Consider both remote and in-person options for wellness programs and people’s comfort levels with them. People will return to physical environments with all sorts of anxiety over social situations, for example, and being inclusive for all is not only the right thing to do but speaks volumes about how genuine a wellness program is.

  3. Cultural Differences
    Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of an employer defining how to be physically, financially or emotionally fit. In fact, a tech CEO recently announced that instead of offering a fitness benefit, a wellness allowance, a farmer’s market share and continuing education allowances, they’d provide the cash value of those instead, stating:

    “It’s none of our business what you do outside of work, and it’s not Basecamp’s place to encourage certain behaviors — regardless of good intention.”

    While these feelings can be reflective of an individual’s views, there are also cultural considerations to make. In the U.S., for example, there are direct ties to an employee’s wellness and an employer’s costs due to insurance, time off, etc. This is less the case in European countries where healthcare is more universal. Employees in the U.S., an individualistic culture, may question how much information they want to share with their employer and how collective they want to be with their wellness. This is because there could be a level of distrust between what they get out of it versus what the employer does.

  4. Company-Wide Buy-In
    Whether it’s nutrition education or naptime (yes that happens), it’s important that all leaders and their teams buy-in to the offerings. If it’s company-wide, maybe set up a “no meeting” parameter when these programs are being offered. An employee having to choose between meditation or a mandatory meeting will always choose the latter. If it’s more individualistic programs, give employees the power to mark off their time for volunteering or whatever it may be.
  5. Consider Fur Families
    Nothing will work well if it doesn’t meet employees’ where they are. When isolved polled over 800 full-time employees across the U.S., only 10 percent of respondents indicated their companies offer pet insurance. Considering Millennials – an influential and desired group in the job market – are leading the way in pet ownership, it might be time to change that. If a Chief Wellness Officer can make it easy to incorporate fur members of the family into wellness paths, many pet parents can save on costs and stress.

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A Chief Wellness Officer role might seem like a long shot for many organizations. The truth remains, however, that employees are looking for purpose at work and a path to better physical, emotional, financial, social and occupational health. If a company doesn’t help them get there, chances are they’ll be looking for a new employer. The good news is, wellness takes many forms and setting up genuine, purposeful programs sets companies apart from those that don’t.