How important are corporate health and wellness programs to employers? Employers budgeted a record amount this year to incentivize employees to participate–$693 per employee, on average, according to a recent survey by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). According to the report, the use of “carrots” (incentives) are up and “sticks” (penalties) are down this year.
The fact that employers are placing such value on corporate wellness is encouraging. Money is a powerful motivator and getting the employee to the table is the first important goal of any wellness program. Such positive emphasis on corporate wellness is good for employees as individuals, the corporation as a whole, and the community at large. By focusing on modifiable risk factors such as lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and tobacco use, corporate wellness programs can take a bite out of preventable chronic illnesses.
Of course, to be effective, the tasty carrot on the front end must be backed up by a healthy corporate culture and a robust program after the employee is at the table.
How can employers perpetuate meaningful and effective engagement with corporate wellness programs?
- Leadership must send a consistent a healthy message, utilizing a variety of health and wellness initiatives.
Ideally employers have been supportive of a healthy lifestyle long before the corporate wellness program was introduced to employees. Flexible policies to support work/life balance, exercise opportunities, healthy food choices, a refrigerator for food brought from home, and realistic work expectations are just a few ways that employers build credibility.
If employers don’t already have policies like these in place, it’s never too late to give the corporate culture an upgrade. Instituting these types of workplace changes will show employees that the leadership in vested and sincere. Having a corporate culture that facilitates a healthy lifestyle is critical for corporate-wide success.
Consistency with the healthy message and the company’s practices is key.
- The program must be well-orchestrated to facilitate behavioral change.
The health screening is the ultimate time to nurture this common goal of health and wellness. By immersing employees in a healthful experience and giving them an opportunity for 1:1 dialogue with a knowledgeable, caring healthcare professional, employees will feel supported in their healthy journey. Screenings must be scheduled with ample time available and take place away from the work environment for a quality dialogue. The health screening environment must be sufficiently clinical while being private and comfortable. Some employers even add tailored add-ons, such as massages, before sending employees back to their desks or work areas.
Of course, behavioral change may begin at signup for some motivated employees, at the health screening for others, and during subsequent wellness programs for others. Health coaching must be ongoing and meet employers wherever they are in their health journey. Some employees prefer classes so they have the support from others and some prefer to privately engage with a coach on a telephone. Continued engagement can be accomplished with multiple options for ongoing health support (group classes, online support, etc.)–Enticement with a carrot and engagement with a varied platter of feedback and coaching!
- Corporate wellness programs must be regularly evaluated.
If a corporate wellness program does not lead to expected outcomes, employers need to re-examine the program and make changes as indicated. However, leadership should not wait until any particular milestones to champion health and wellness initiatives. Rather any corporate wellness program should be readily visible and regularly discussed. Employee feedback, outcomes, and return on investment are all important pieces to consider.
The goal of any corporate wellness program should be to create a corporate culture of wellness that is so pervasive throughout the company that employees are motivated to participate with a tasty carrot, and they are inspired for long-lasting behavorial change by the robust and varied platter of services offered.
Our health engagement team has found that every moment matters when it comes to a corporate wellness program. Our mobile vehicles are designed to fully immerse employees in a uniquely tailored health experience to get corporate programs off to the very best start.
Contact us today to learn how we can get your corporate program the engagement it needs.