A few years back I delivered a series of workshops on health and wellness to a large client. In four months, 32 workshops were delivered to over 100 employees, hard copy resources provided and even some one-on-one coaching for select individuals.
The interesting thing I noted was that whilst many participants loved the workshops and thrived on learning how to incorporate simple changes into their life, there was a significant proportion who did not engage as well as the employer would have liked.
Whilst they attended (at the request of their manager), I could tell they were not connected with what the workshops had to offer. A hard gig to deliver when you know half of the audience would rather be anywhere else but in the room listening to ‘health talk’.
The important lesson I learnt from that time was that the traditional ‘Wellness Program’ approach is not well utilised when it’s not actually something employees feel they need or want.
This might sound like common sense however I know many companies who offer ‘Wellness’ as part of their employee benefits package, yet are not really in touch with the needs of the individuals who make up their workforce.
According to The Gallup Organisation, only 24 per cent of employees at companies that offer a wellness program actually participate in it. What’s more, only 12 per cent of employees strongly agree that they have substantially higher overall wellbeing because of their employer.
Here are a few common ‘wellness initiatives’ many companies offer:
- A gym membership program, which attracts predominately those who ALREADY exercise.
- A fruit bowl in the lunch room, which is usually enjoyed by those who ALREADY include fruit in their diet ‚Ä¶ and something that is often set aside for a decedent morning or afternoon tea of cake, tim tams and chips!
- A training workshop delivered by a sleep expert who teaches employees how sleep effects performance and how to adopt habits to improve sleep, all well and good if the participants take action and put those habits into place. But that’s not something an employer can enforce an individual to do.
None of these initiatives are incorrect, but the important thing to ask is ARE THEY BEING UTILISED EFFECTIVELY? And if not, what else can the company invest in to create a workforce who are energised and able to give their best at work.
Recently I was listening to a podcast called ‘How Wellbeing Engagement Trumps Wellness’ by Engaging Leaders (a USA based company).
The podcast focused on a new approach to workplace WELLBEING (not wellness), where a whole person approach can improve health, employee engagement and the companies bottom-line.
They discussed five universal elements of wellbeing that help employees thrive:
- Purpose/Career | liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
- Social | having supportive relationships and love in your life
- Financial | managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
- Community | liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
- Physical | having good health and enough energy to get things done daily
I like this approach because it means that an organisation realises that their people are all at different stages of ‘Wellbeing’. It’s the same philosophy we have at KALM and one we believe can have a big impact on employee retention, performance and building a positive culture at work.
To be seen as an employer of choice where the best in their field want to work there and no one wants to leave because it’s such a great culture – that’s what I call business success.
What that looks like depends on the values and culture of the organisation, the demographic that make up the workforce and what the company provide that support their teams.
It’s no use offering boot camp sessions before and after work if your employees are busy parents who are time poor and have family commitments at this time.
If you are ready to implement a new apporach to wellbing in your organisation, my suggestion is to do this:
- Find out what your employees currently feel challenged by – surveying, focus groups, intranet forums, team meetings can all extract this information as can HR records for sick leave, EAP usage and workplace injury claims.
- Brainstorm and research potential activities that address these needs – this could include specialised training, small group coaching, social events, resources, team building activities, physical fitness sessions, yoga and so on.
- Devise a 12-month calendar where the activities are scheduled in. Not only will this show you are listening to your team and providing support in areas they have highlighted, it also adds a sense of anticipation. Strategically, if you schedule specific activities to coincide with times of the year you know your employees are likely to feel more pressure, you may even side step common issues like burn out, sick leave and stress.
The most important thing is that you have one or more people driving this calendar, working with the HR and Marketing departments to communicate and promote the activities.
And the bonus is that if you see a wellbeing initiative like the 12-month calendar as a strategy for employee retention, it’s far easier to measure than whether fruit and lunchtime bootcamps lead to healthier employees.
KALM offer a very cost and time effective 12-month calendar of Wellbeing activities that cover all five elements of Wellbeing.