Obesity has become a public health crisis. The CDC reporting over 42% of the U.S. population clinically obese in 2018. Obesity is linked to chronic conditions such as Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and cancer. It is also responsible for 1 in 5 deaths — nearly as many as smoking. Back in 2008, the CDC reported that obesity cost the U.S. economy $147 billion dollars – a figure that is rising every year.
There is a clear problem that many companies are addressing through offering health and wellness assistance to their employees.
“Almost half of all U.S. worksites offered some type of health promotion or wellness program in 2017, according to a new study published today in the American Journal of Health Promotion,” according to the CDC. Corporate wellness programs are rapidly growing across the United States, which is great! The idea is phenomenal, but how is the delivery?
You have Content based wellness vs Results based wellness
Content and education are an important part of every solid wellness program. However, providing content, newsletters and monthly seminars are only a small piece of behavior change. When is the last time you implemented everything (or much of anything) you read in a book, or learned at a seminar? Behavior change is incredibly difficult, and for any individual to change their habits and see results, they need a frequent and regular cadence of accountability.
Too many wellness programs are simply providing information, but zero method of accountability for employees. Some common ways this is implemented today….
- Having a health coach speak to your employees monthly/quarterly
- Providing a gym membership reimbursement
- Sending a health newsletter
- Hosting a seminar
- Hosting biometric screening with no follow up action plan
All of these activities, while effective, are not enough.
You have a generic, one size fits all program
Everyone at your company is unique. Some may be more similar than others, but no two are exactly the same. Having a diverse team aids company performance because each individual has different strengths and will benefit the company in some way.
This also applies to your wellness program. Everyone on your team has different goals and challenges related to their health. Some people will be beginners and some people will be advanced. Then you must consider age, income level and culture. There is a spectrum that still needs to be catered to, and wellness programs cannot and must not be “one size fits all.”
If people are seen as individuals rather than a mass, they will be much more likely to participate in a wellness program and will feel more valued. This will help your company create a positive environment and increase that positive company culture.
Personalization in a wellness program is key and that all comes down to accountability.
Your program doesn’t provide accountability
You’re hearing the word, “Accountability” throughout this article because it is the main reason that a program will fail. According to James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, it takes an average of 66 days for a person to form a new habit or routine. When someone is just beginning their health journey, or attempting to lose weight or change unhealthy behaviors, they will need support.
When you invest in a Certified Coach and/or Personal Trainer who will check in on your employee’s health goals regularly, their success becomes much more attainable.
Having weekly employee check-ins, or (at a minimum) bimonthly check-ins is essential to seeing results.
A less expensive option that costs you nothing at all is to set up teams so employees have a group of supportive people all working together toward their health goals. Even “checking in” on a facebook group will help your team stay on the right track.
You’re not treating wellness like a business
Your workplace wellness program needs to be run the same way you run your business. Would you just “wing it” in your business? Of course not. A structured corporate wellness program will have:
- A short term and long term plan
- Measurable goals and objectives
- Key performance indicators
- Staff and/or vendors to manage the program
- Communication plan and regular oversight
Without investing time, energy and resources into a corporate wellness program, you will not see the return on investment.
You’re expecting immediate results
Wellness is a long term investment. We’ve covered that behavior change is really hard, and employees will not all go rushing to participate the first time you send an email. Some people may need repeated exposure to your program, a different approach, or even a different time in their life to be ready to participate.
Pharmaceutical firm Glaxo Smith Kline conducted a study on over 6000 employees for over 4 years and found that the return on investment for wellness programs compounded each year until the 4th year of the program. Further, the lower the company turnover, the greater the return on investment for the firm.
Developing a strong culture of wellness at your company is going to take time, persistence and leading by example. Yes, that means YOU, the leader reading this. Your employees will look to you, their managers, supervisors and executives, to see their commitment to wellness.
You’re expecting it to be cheap.
If you want to have a wellness program just to say you have a wellness program, that’s fine, and there are many free or very inexpensive programs and options available. However, now that we’ve covered that the key factor in success is providing employees with accountability, that is impossible to provide without a cost. So, the question to ask yourself is, “do I want a program for the sake of saying that our firm has a wellness program”, or “do I want my employees to get healthier?”
“89% of workers at companies that support well-being initiatives are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work,” according to a Forbes article published in 2019.
Any type of return on investment only comes after you invest. The same is true for a corporate wellness program and investing in your employees. Here’s the domino effect in play with the statistic above:
- Employees wellness is invested in and they become healthier
- Employees become healthier and begin to feel better
- Employees feel better and report higher job satisfaction
- Employees are more satisfied with their job, and are 21% more productive, reducing costs
- Employees also stay in their job longer since they are more satisfied and engaged, reducing turnover.
- Lower turnover rate reduces costs and improves company profits
It’s crucial for company profits to invest in a proper wellness program that will not just provide you with educational health content but also measurable results. Certain insurance carriers, such as Cigna, are more progressive by focusing on disease reduction and lifestyle management, and finding innovative wellness solutions for their clients.
You’re program lacks technology & ROI
This is the generation of technology! There are so many new resources and information especially in regards to health and wellness. It is tedious, time consuming and inefficient to manually track the health of your employees.
Hire a vendor who uses apps to track weight and caloric intake, as well as a class management software to record class attendance. This will take some of the burden off of your Human Resources department. This frees up time, enabling them to take action on other pressing company priorities.
According to a large Rand study, only 2% of employers formally tracked their employees results or return on investment from wellness programs. Our partners at Benefit Commerce Group have a proprietary program called the Trend Neutralizer, which guarantees return on investment for wellness efforts. As stated on their website, Benefit Commerce Group is “committed to creating benefit plans and strategies that make life easier and better for HR teams and that provide the best cost-effective value for employers, employees and families.”
What your corporate wellness program needs:
This may seem like a lot to tackle all at once, you can’t go wrong if you just start small, have a long term perspective, and continue making improvements to your program over time.
At TriFit wellness, we focus on providing our employee groups with the personalization and accountability they need to make lasting changes, and being long term, strategic partners to our employers to help them implement programs that deliver results and return on investment. Contact us today for a free 60 minute discovery session.