A key challenge for organisations today is achieving optimal performance and sustained productivity.
Sustained productivity is derived from a workforce that is engaged and resilient. In order to achieve these attributes business leaders need to ensure the presence of a sound employee value proposition, one that proactively contributes to the health and wellbeing of the workforce.
In research conducted by Ernst & Young published in 2013, the single biggest contributor to improved productivity was “having a culture that values staff and wellbeing”. According to the study, healthy employees are working approximately 143 effective hours per month compared to 49 effective hours per month for the unhealthy (3 times more effective).
Good companies are taking employee wellness more seriously now. Unfortunately, too many companies are trying to implement wellness programs with little to no experience or game plan for success. As a result, more programs fail than succeed.
Corporate wellness cannot be treated as the latest in a long line of fashionable programs to gain you “employer of choice” status. Engagement, motivation, support and strategy are the keys to a making a wellness program stick.
Preventable wellness is a complete lifestyle and behaviour change and change takes time and commitment. Don’t forget, if you are dealing with people’s lifestyles, you are dealing with their home life too.
Benefits of Workplace Health and Wellness Programs
Research has shown that workplace wellness programs bring physical, mental and emotional benefits to employees as well as financial benefits to companies. Some of the benefits of Workplace Wellness Programs include:
• Better focus and longer concentration of employees
• Improved workplace morale
• Demonstrating a ‘care factor’ for staff
• Fostering a community feeling in the workplace
• Increased employee trust, satisfaction, engagement and loyalty
• Reduced stress-related issues
• Increased resilience
• Improved mental and physical health
As a result of the above mentioned employee health and wellness benefits, your organisation will also benefit by:
• Improved performance and productivity
• An elevated Employee Value Proposition so you’ll attract and retain the best staff members
• Reduced absenteeism
• Reduced staff turnover and therefore reduced recruitment and training costs
The success of corporate wellness is driven by the unique strategy behind it. It involves a framework that outlines short and long-term goals for the employee and the employer. Corporate wellness needs support, leadership and commitment from all stakeholders. A successful program takes time and constantly evolves so it can be integrated into the fabric of the company’s culture.
If you’re ready to commit, here are a few things to keep in mind as you design your wellness program:
1. A higher level of awareness is essential to success. People in general are becoming more and more health conscious. How many Fitbits have you noticed today? But due to higher stress, longer work days and constant multitasking, it is more difficult to find the time to act on wellness goals. It’s important that organisations prioritise wellness because the majority of an employee’s time is spent at the workplace.
2. Many chronic diseases are preventable. They are also the most preventable type of disease. Illnesses like heart disease, stroke, some cancers and obesity. The only way to prevent disease is with actionable steps to halt progression. When old habits are years in the making, you cannot expect behaviour change to happen overnight. Ever tried a diet or to quit smoking? When a person is able to commit mentally, emotionally and socially, and on a conscience level, progress is made.
3. Be creative. Corporate wellness shouldn’t be boring. Creating distinctive and dynamic programs that consistently evolve over time ensure the best possibility of long term success. It needs to be specific to your environment & your employees. Challenge your program to stay on the latest trends; it will help to appoint a wellness lead that takes direct responsibility over the operations (internally or externally).
When we actually think about what needs to take place, it seems fairly straightforward. However, the challenge lies in the execution. Behaviour modification takes time and is different from person to person. It is possible, when reinforced consistently with different programs, multiple touch points, strong leadership, and an unwavering commitment.
Leadership casts a long shadow. Too many executives are neglecting their own health for what they perceive is the ‘good of the company’. The best performing management teams are healthy, well balanced and remarkably resilient.
Corporate wellness is not just one solution. It is the culmination of many solutions that work together under one strategy. It involves layers of physical activity, education, communication, incentives, and a long term commitment.
I challenge both the employers and the employees to think differently about wellness and what it means to them. If the end goal is healthier employees, then both parties need to be involved to share this common vision. It is time to move the employee value proposition beyond the remuneration and benefits package into the cultural mainstream with business leaders driving the cultural change.