Are Your Wellness Initiatives Going Down Like Bad Medicine?
Join author Dr. Jonas Eyford for his Lightning Talk at 2018 Imagine Your Workplace Conference
We can’t help people unless we know what they want — and if we guess, we’ll probably miss the mark. Too often corporate wellness ends up as a discouraging journey from one shiny, new top-down ‘solution’ to the next. The HR manager tasked with designing the wellness program is then left frustrated with its inefficacy.
Vertically imposed wellness strategies — when management decrees how wellness will unfold — are limited by the depth of insight of the few stewing over decisions. This is like a doctor trying to guess what prescription would best suit the guests at a dinner party. The results are low relevance, inspire little engagement and are a poor return on investment.
Our workplaces can become vibrant and healthy spaces, but only if we stop trying to force it. Instead, we must create the opportunity to let wellness happen. We can do this by designing and implementing wellness strategies horizontally.
Implementing a wellness strategy horizontally through your organization begins with the acknowledgement that neither you nor your talented HR team knows what is really going to work to motivate your team to be more active, healthy and engaged. Let curiosity drive the process; ask your people how they get their best work done. Inquire about health goals and about the elements of work that challenge their well-being. Thoughtful surveying can work, though a well-planned series of conversations is more effective.
In order for a wellness strategy to work, people need to be engaged in thoughtful questioning, management needs to listen, and leadership needs to support the process.
Those who I have seen successfully build sustainable wellness initiatives do so through with a creative use of resources.
A few examples of well-received efforts include:
- Group activities like team sports, charity fundraising or volunteering together in the community
- Onsite wellness services like massage, yoga or chiropractic care
- Rest and meditation spaces
- Nutrition, financial and/or emotional resilience education
In my experience visiting organizations as a wellness expert, I have heard employees cite these novel activities as the singular highlight of their job. It’s something that sets their workplace apart from the rest and makes them feel valued. And more often than not, these powerful initiatives cost the organization very little. Perks like an onsite massage station, for example, can be offered for no cost at all when the provider offers direct insurance billing.
When we take the time to ask our team good questions, unique and meaningful wellness initiatives can flourish. And well-received wellness opportunities can save employees time, help improve performance and reduce costs related to poor health.
Just as a doctor would want to take a thorough history despite already having a good inkling of the diagnosis, putting our assumptions on hold to humbly investigate the needs of our team will invariably serve to produce the best results. Building on what we learn is the fun part that follows.
The most competitive organizations have proven that happier, healthier employees exhibit enhanced engagement and productivity. Make your wellness program a success by implementing it horizontally and reap the rewards of a happier, healthier organization.