There is a lot of talk at the moment about Wellness Programs in the workplace….and rightly so! Over the past few years I have been exposed to a number of organisations across a number of industries and it made me wonder if businesses really understand what a Wellness Program actually is?  What should it cover and how should it operate?

Sure, we have all seen the standard programs rolled out over the years including:

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP);
  • Fluvax;
  • Boxes of Fruit; and
  • Nutrition seminars.

The challenge with these standard programs is that they don’t address the root cause of wellness and linking it back to the organisational and personal outcomes it is looking to achieve.   Have organisations actually stepped back and looked at the Wellness Program holistically to determine what best suits their organisation and are there any tangible benefits to employee (and management) of what is being rolled out or is it just ticking the proverbial ‘Wellness box’?  How will it sustainably improve the lives of employees leading to a more sustainable and engaged workforce?

Like any other programs that is developed or rolled out, it is essential to develop a plan to ensure you have the programs that best suit you and to ensure the money that is being spent is directed to the correct program outcomes.

Some of the key considerations that need to be thought through with the implementation of a wellness program include:

  • You determine what your organisation wants to achieve by having a wellness program;
  • The workforce is engaged and consulted with around what wellness means and doesn’t mean and what commitment is required by all for the program to be successful;
  • Executive commitment to ensure financial support including leaders role modelling the right behaviours, leading by example and encouraging all staff to get involved;
  • A plan is developed to ensure transparency of what is being undertaken, roles of everyone involved, how success is going to be measured and how the plan will be implemented;
  • Communication is regular and supportive around progress with the wellness program, what has worked well and what needs focus from all involved;
  • Measures of success and reporting focussed on the key outcomes of the wellness program linked to the strategic and financial targets of the organisation;
  • Accountability for reporting and results is linked and integrated in  to other reporting in the organisation so that wellness is one piece of our reporting puzzle;
  • Relevant incentive plans are integrated and the wellness program is incorporated in to Executive and Management key behaviour metrics.

You often hear people discuss wellness as the next big thing and see articles written about Business X has table tennis or Business Y has fresh fruit daily or Business Z has bean bags in meeting rooms.   This is not what wellness programs are and should be about.  Further, gone are the days where the mighty dollar is the sole reason to attract good people to your business.  This may meet people’s security needs but will not lead to long term satisfaction and engagement with their roles and organisations.  Businesses need to make sure they don’t just tick the wellness box, but strategically implement and integrate them to assist them in becoming an ‘Employer of Choice’.

The wellness program must be a long term investment and not something that addresses a short term fad or need.  A focus on wellness has so many benefits for individuals, teams, projects and organisations.   This investment will pay off as long as the focus is on the long term driving a sustainable approach to your people.