Is Your Corporate Wellness Plan Flatlining? Bring It Back to Life with These Tips

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Healthy employees are happier and more productive. It only makes sense that if they feel good, they will be more engaged and thus deliver better work. As a company that cares about employee health, you know that participation in a wellness plan is a key to success.

Addressing employee health has to be consistent. Many companies struggle to get their program on track and attract employees to participate. According to a Buck Consultants report, about 47 per cent of Australian companies offer some kind of wellness program. However, less than half measure the results, making it hard to determine the effectiveness.

For corporate wellness to work, there needs to be a system that provides the right resources and encouragement. Your wellness program should address exercise and a healthy diet. While you may have a plan that focuses on both diet and exercise, there are still actionable steps you can take that can increase adoption. Adoption is the true sign of success. Even if you have a great program that many employees participate in, there may still be groups that don't even know about your program. 

Get your employee wellness program back to life by considering these tips:

  • Effective communication
  • Wellness hero
  • Manager buy-in
  • Convenience 
  • Incentives
  • Competition
  • Access to healthy foods

Get the Pulse of Your Program Back with These Tips

Even if you provide the healthy stuff, how do you get employees to engage? Here are some proven tips that are worth reviewing and can get the pulse back in your wellness program.

Effective Communication

Does your workforce even know about your wellness program? A Gallup research study found that only 60 per cent of employees were even aware of their company’s program. There’s a good chance that a big chunk of your employees have no idea the program exists.

It’s time to strategise on communication. Consider all the channels you have available to you, including email, internal platforms like Yammer, digital signage in break rooms, All Hands meetings and any other opportunities to share information. It’s also recommended to offer employees a channel to offer feedback or ideas so that communication is a two-way conversation.

Find Your Wellness Hero

A Harvard Business Review study concluded that companies with successful wellness programs had a designated wellness manager to develop and implement programs. This type of role is suited for an enthusiastic voice that loves everything about being healthy. Having a face or point of contact as your wellness hero can stimulate more interest, especially if that person is regularly communicating with and driving the wellness plan.

Get Managers on Board

While having a wellness hero is great, it’s important that managers are on board. Managers are the people that have the most interaction with employees, and thus have the ability to influence them. And, the research backs it up. A Gallup poll decreed that having middle management agreement and support was the biggest factor in higher levels of participation. Spend extra time communicating and engaging with managers. Seek guidance from them on how to increase engagement as they are a wealth of information related to your workforce.

Make Employee Participation Convenient

Modern life is busy, thus, there is a tendency to do things that are convenient. Convenience in an employee wellness program can certainly increase participation. If you offer employees nutritional and exercise coaching and training on-site, then you remove the "inconvenience" excuse. Convenience also means organising walking groups at your site and providing healthy options for snacking or events.

Reward Participation

Sometimes, people just need a little push to join the program, and that push could be an incentive. Based on your rules or guidelines on incentives, you could offer vacation hours, gift cards or branded corporate apparel and items. Incentives should align with what your employees would want. Perhaps this information can be found in employee engagement surveys if questions were asked about the topic. Different things entice different people, so it may be good to have several choices.

Turn on the Competition

Humans are competitive by nature. It’s in our DNA. When you want to get more employees involved in your wellness plan, creating competition is a great tactic to use. These could be team challenges with different departments facing off against each other in weight loss battles. Or, maybe you can have a “Step Off” to see who walks the most steps in a week. There are lots of ways to integrate wellness and competition. Try a few different things and ask your most engaged employees for ideas.

Say Yes to Healthy Options, Including Healthy Snacks

Nutrition is a critical component of any employee wellness program. But just talking about nutrition or passing out information aren't enough. First, it's important to understand the link between what employees eat and their performance.

Healthy Snacks = Better Performance

In a study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), Brigham Young University and the Center for Health Research at Healthways explored the impact of healthy eating and exercise on the workplace. The study found that those employees that ate healthy all day were 25 percent more likely to have higher job performance. Those that ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables for four or more days of the week were 20 percent more likely to have higher job performance.

Many other studies have found the same kind of correlations. Healthy employees also generally cost companies less in terms of absenteeism and turnover. The facts are solid; encouraging healthy eating is a powerful step to improving wellness and productivity.  

Access to Healthy Snacks is Imperative

You may not realise this, but the majority of calories for the average employee are consumed at work in the form of meals and snacks. Thus, what is convenient makes up most of your employees' diets. When glucose levels drop during the workday, people naturally gravitate toward junk food options that are usually full of sugar or salt. However, when workers have healthy options available to them, they avoid the drop in glucose and stop the cycle of harmful eating patterns.

The problem may be accessibility. How often do you offer healthy snack or eating options? Your employees are going to eat what is convenient for them. For this reason, you must make it easy for them to snack healthy. That doesn't mean you have to bring in beet juice or spend considerable time trying to source healthy snack options yourself. You can work with a healthy snack provider like SnackWize, which curates a wide selection of healthy nutritious snacks options based on your organisation size and budget. SnackWize can then deliver a healthy snack box directly to your office or workplace on a fortnight or monthly basis.

Focus on a Healthy Culture

Yes, you want your employees to participate in your program, but that is only part of what constitutes success. When you work to build a healthy culture, you are considering every part of the wellness spectrum, including exercise, healthy eating, mental health and a sense of community. With a healthy culture, there is a holistic approach, one that will change and grow as your company does. A healthy culture can foster better communication and reduce stress. When building your culture, it’s important to develop metrics to measure the success of the program, beyond pounds lost or lowered carb intakes. Delve into the data to understand why people participate or not, and how you can make adjustments to ensure your program is inclusive to all.

Wellness for All: Reviving and Energising Your Program

Wellness isn’t a singular objective. It’s the collection of all the many things you do every day—how much you move, what you digest and how much stress you generate. This applies to every employee at your company. To inspire your staff to take part in your wellness program, you’ll need a solid strategy to get the pulse back and beating. Wellness programs only work when you have widespread participation. You’ll need to continue refining your program and keep communication open. This allows the program to become part of your culture.

One of the easiest ways to resuscitate your wellness program is partnering with SnackWize. We make healthy snacking convenient and affordable for your organisation. Our healthy nutritious gluten free and paleo snack boxes have a nice mix of options and can be customised to fit your office’s needs 

Ready to revive and energise your wellness program? Try a FREE box of healthy snacks from Snackwize (just pay $11,00 S&H). Click HERE for details. 

Conor Reynolds