5 Strategies for Implementing an Effective Wellness Program
By Akshay Ahooja, CEO and Co-Founder of Trainiac
There is clear scientific evidence that shows regular wellness routines positively impact productivity. Regular exercising results in increased confidence, boosted energy levels and enhanced focus that all lead to better decision-making, and ultimately, improved business outcomes.
A United Healthcare survey found that 62% of wellness participants noted increased productivity while 56% had fewer sick days. Moreover, nearly one third of the participants detected an underlying disease due to these programs, potentially giving them a critical early start on treatment options.
When wellness programs are built and conducted properly, they layer together multiple benefits and create a symbiosis between employee health and business health. And the cost benefits are undeniable – quite simply, a healthy workforce reduces a company’s insurance costs.
In addition to the direct business outcome and cost benefits, a strong wellness program directly helps with your recruitment efforts. More than 75% of Millennials report working out at least once a week, and they rank wellness as a top three priority they look for in the workplace. This is the highest it’s ever been in recorded history. Wellness is on top of people’s mind more than ever before.
Yet, to reap all these benefits, the program must be carefully crafted and executed. I have outlined five critical components to launching a successful wellness program.
Make Wellness a Priority, Not Just an Option
Most wellness benefits are unused. Employees might be unaware of the benefits, unclear on how to access them, unsure what’s right for them, or are just not motivated to participate. The average employer spends several hundreds of dollars each year per employee on wellness programs, only to see poor participation rates and little if any outcomes.
When wellness programs struggle, there is often a lack of leadership engagement and promotion. Leaders that make it their responsibility to keep their employees healthy see the most success. This requires a mindset shift – once you start considering wellness as an essential benefit as you do with medical care, people around you will start to see it the same way. Executing a successful wellness program that delivers outcomes does require it being a part of your company’s culture – healthy lifestyles need to be celebrated and supported from all layers of the organization.
Programs Should be Specific and Personal
Wellness programs continue to grow in variety without growing in specificity. This only grows the problems employees face – what should I use from the hundreds of options available to me? What parts of wellness are most important for me? How should I use the $300 my company gives me each year? These questions get in the way of employees starting a program that works and sticking to it. Personalization, and ongoing support, are the key to building programs that drive engagement.
With the COVID-19 pandemic upending all our lives, workers across the country are building new routines. Now is an excellent time to make wellness a priority company wide while we all settle into new habits. Many people may be feeling displaced, isolated, and anxious – a healthy daily routine of exercising, eating well, and taking care of your mental and physical health will help bring control back into our lives.
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Choose the Right Partners
The right wellness partners meet your employees where they are at in their fitness journey. Prescribing one solution to everyone isn’t ideal – we all have our own goals, physical and mental struggles, and constraints. Too much variety though, also leads to inertia which gets in the way of real engagement. Wellness is personal, and it’s a difficult journey with many ups and downs – the right partners need to help each employee take that journey in their own way – with expertise and support.
Platforms like Trainiac can give employees the benefits of custom programs designed by certified trainers who hold their clients accountable through their journeys. Trainiac provides clients with one-on-one expertise and accountability, while removing constraints of time and location, for an affordable price point.
This becomes all the more important during the COVID-19 era. With people avoiding gyms and spending most of their time at home, it’s easy to put wellness aside when we actually need it most.
Lead by Example
Not surprisingly, there is a strong correlation between leadership’s role in wellness and employee participation. According to research from the Health Enhancement Research Organization, “Organizations whose leaders are role models for prioritizing health and work/life balance reported higher median satisfaction rates (85%) and employee agreement of organizational support (85%), compared to organizations whose leaders were not role models.”
Building wellness habits is a unique and difficult journey for each person. Milestones along the way deserve recognition and praise – and leadership can step in to lead the way. Providing awards and incentives to celebrate wellness wins not only helps those individuals receiving them but the culture as a whole. Perhaps instead of a happy hour, which is no longer a possibility, try a virtual workout, or a group mindfulness exercise to build team collaboration and culture. Most importantly, it puts wellness top of mind.
Employee wellness programs are successful when employees engage with them long term. A well-constructed plan backed by an engaged leadership and high-quality partners can pay huge dividends for the team and business alike. There’s no better time than now to think about and execute a new wellness program in a deep and thoughtful way.