It’s a new year and time to improve our health and productivity at work! But according to recent research, workplace wellness programs are not very effective. (Of course this study took place at PepsiCo, a company whose flagship product has 41 grams of sugar per can).
Many employers are using financial rewards and penalties to encourage their employees to lose weight, exercise, or lower their cholesterol and blood sugar. They are creating these programs as a way to lower health-care premiums, and to increase performance – fewer sick days and more energy at the office.
Living healthier creates many benefits for the company as well as individual employees, but that is meaningless unless people stick to it. If you’re planning to introduce a wellness program at your organization in 2016, follow these 5 tips for building a positive workplace where people are inspired to be more healthy:
Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation are both powerful for helping people achieve their wellness goals. Start by creating healthy competition among or across different teams. Encourage teams to collectively hit certain goals like losing the most weight or running the greatest distance by the end of the quarter.
There are also a plethora of affordable fitness wearables to help people keep track of their progress. These make great rewards for hitting performance goals and objectives at work.
Employees must also be intrinsically motivated to fully embrace any wellness program. Bring in an expert to discuss the benefits of better health with the team. Studies have shown that people make decisions based on emotions, not based on scientific research. So make sure that your guest speaker can really make an impact on a personal level.
Companies make mistakes when implementing wellness programs because they think about employee health too narrowly. They often forget that wellness isn’t just about physical fitness, but is about all aspects of life.
Managers should check-in with employees regularly to ensure that their emotional needs are being met and that they are not overly stressed at work. Personal and professional stress can have more of an impact on weight gain than twinkies.
Health isn’t just about access to premium gym memberships or adding a salad bar in the cafeteria (although healthier food options are a must!) A healthy organization also has high morale and productivity, with minimal company politics and low employee turnover rates.
Healthy enterprises are full of people who are invested and engaged in their work. Workers who feel good about where they work, including who they work for and with whom they collaborate, will be most successful with wellness programs. Healthy cultures foster positive interpersonal relationships and management methodologies which engage rather than scare or irritate workers. In those cultures, employees are far more willing to go the extra mile (on the track or at their desks).
Wellness programs usually bring in aggregated data about employee health, effectively preventing managers from seeing individual results and addressing potential problems. When creating a wellness program, allow individual managers to focus on the quality, scope and relevance to particular employee groups.
Employees in higher positions may choose not to participate in a wellness program, whether because they’re too busy or because they see little benefit. A culture of health requires passionate and persuasive leadership – leaders ranging from officers to executives and team managers should all lead by example and actively participate in the wellness program.
Any wellness program should respond to employee needs by including their feedback. Don’t punish employees for not participating, instead ask them about the reasons for their decision. You might be able to modify the program so that they will be willing to participate. Every encounter with employees will help you to craft your wellness program to be more relevant and engaging, ensuring its success company-wide.
No workplace wellness program can become an asset without a healthy dose of employee motivation and engagement. It all starts with a company culture where people are inspired to collaborate and build strong relationships. When people genuinely want the best for themselves, their colleagues, and their company, they will make healthier decisions that are more likely to last through to the next round of New Year’s resolutions.
Monique Craig is a blogger and an employee at Oneflare, a reliable online marketplace connecting Australians with local businesses. In her free time, Monique enjoys reading self-improvement books and learning more about new technologies and strategies that allow businesses to grow and expand.
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