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Sep 2016

5 easy steps to jumpstart your stalled workplace wellness program


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You had a vision for your workplace; a gleaming, well-lit breakroom with robust, ripe fruits overflowing from a bowl on a table. Employees would enter, a sheen of sweat still lingering from the daily lunch-break run. Smiling faces, cheerful attitudes, and healthy bodies all together in an environment crackling with positive energy… Unfortunately, things don’t always work out exactly how we envision. Did your wellness program fall short? Has it lost its momentum? Is it teetering on the precipice of irrelevancy?

Why wellness programs fail

Have you ever started your own personal ‘wellness program’? A diet? A new exercise regimen? Do you recall just how long that new commitment lasted? Most likely, you have entertained a number of diets, New Year’s resolutions, and vows to get in shape. Like many new commitments, they probably lasted for a while before fading away. Now, imagine trying to create a wellness program that requires the commitment of every employee in a given workplace. It is very, very difficult to gain momentum for any new program, let alone a wellness program that requires workers to exercise, diet, and break bad habits.

Keeping employees engaged is the most difficult aspect of sustaining a wellness program. However, there are other reasons why wellness programs fail. First, it is important to target the issues that are prevalent in a given workplace. For example, if your office has high obesity rates then implementing a wellness program that focuses solely on diet and exercise would be ideal. However, an office that has many employees struggling with mental health illnesses may focus their attention on different aspects, while still including diet and exercise. Focusing resources in the wrong place will result in a program that will not gain any momentum. First, identify a need. After a specific point of interest has been identified, then select the proper wellness program for the need that is at hand.

Wellness programs also fail because they are ‘built for the short-term’. For example, an office-wide weight loss competition is a great way to get people on board to lose 10 or 20 pounds. Yet, does it really make lasting changes? For many, weight loss is only a temporary achievement as most regain lost weight within a few years. Many wellness programs fail because they are not built for long term goals. Wellness is not a temporary fix; it is a lifestyle.

How to make wellness last

You’ve identified reasons why your wellness program has slowly faded out. You realize employees that employees lose interest, and that wellness needs to be centered around longevity. But how do you do that? Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Incentivize: Promising a healthy body and a happier life may not be enough to motivate employees to engage themselves in a wellness program. Employers need to find ways to use incentives to boost participation and employee engagement.
  2. Managerial action: leaders in the workplace need to be involved in the wellness program. Leaders should be promoting the program, as well as taking part in the process of healthy living.
  3. Follow a plan: A wellness program should be thoroughly planned and organized. Half-hearted effort will yield half-hearted results. Identifying problems, setting goals, and creating means to reach those goals are the fundamentals of every program. Build off of them.
  4. Easily Engaged: Employees should not struggle to involve themselves in a wellness program. A program that places more stress and hassle on employees will not last. Create a program that is easily accessible.
  5. Encourage: Just like young children on a ball field; employees need to be reminded of their worth and acknowledged for their work. Leaders in the workplace should always promote healthy habits, and help keep employees committed by offering encouragement when motivation wanes.

Employee wellness is not a sprint. Wellness comes from a commitment to live life in a way that keeps the mind fresh, body strong, and spirit intact. Companies need to realize that employee wellness programs are not always successful. However, with the proper planning, mindset, encouragement, and desire to live safely and healthy; wellness can work.

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