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Trying Wellness Versus Doing it

Greg Justice, MA

Wellness is a lot like the Force. Do, or dot, there is not try.

Trying Wellness Versus Doing it

Many companies have tried implementing a wellness program in the past and been unsuccessful?

Because of the wide variety in types of wellness programs, the advances made in the last several years, and the prevalence of the internet in people’s lives, there are many more and different choices for wellness programs.

In the past, many so-called wellness programs consisted merely of a health screening and monthly newsletters that employees wouldn’t even bother to read.  Programs today are much more sophisticated, but most importantly, they can be customized to your employees’ needs and preferences.

If you do the groundwork up front to survey your employees, understand their concerns, their preferences for information delivery, and the level of participation they’re willing to undertake, you can pick and choose the services needed, and the modes of communication.

What are the hallmarks of an ineffective program?  Two common symptoms are lack of participation by employees, and lack of return on investment.

The most common reasons wellness programs fail to achieve their desired goals are:

  • Lack of employee interest
  • Insufficient staff resources committed
  • Insufficient funding committed
  • Failure to engage high-risk employees
  • Insufficient management commitment

These failure precursors are not listed in order of importance, and they frequently occur in combinations.  Being aware of these obstacles can help you implement a successful program.

There are ways to neutralize each of these obstacles.  Most of them can be avoided completely by thorough research of options, and by surveying employees to determine their needs and preferences prior to making your decisions about what and how to implement.

Lack of communication is one of the main reasons for employees not being interested in participating in a wellness program.  Sometimes there are logistical issues, such as child care or transportation needs if the employee is to engage in a fitness activity before or after work.  Other times the employee mistakenly believes an activity will cost money when it is included within the program.   Or employees do not understand how the program will benefit them.

If lower level managers are in charge of disseminating information about the program to their staff, correct communication of the benefits of the program may be lacking.

Surveying employees prior to implementing a plan will allow you to identify those employees who are predisposed to participating in the plan.  They can then be enlisted to help others understand the program and become motivated about participating.  Some of these employees may also serve on a wellness program committee.

Unfortunately, some employees will be resistant to a program simply because they are upset with their employer, or because they believe the employer having an interest in their health is an invasion of their privacy.  Only time and successfully healthy employees will have an influence on these people.  In the interim, you will want to keep the positive communication high so their negative attitude does not impact the other motivated employees.

Dedicating staff resources to promoting and managing the wellness program is critical to the program’s success.  These staff resources should be personnel with experience in behavioral management, wellness and program design.  The better versed they are in all aspects of wellness programs, the more successful they will be in communicating needed information, managing the program and evaluating its success.  After the launch period, this work would not be a full-time job in most organizations.

About the Author

Greg Justice, MA opened AYC Health & Fitness, Kansas City’s Original Personal Training Center, in May 1986.  He has personally trained more than 40,000 one-on-one sessions.  Today, AYC specializes in corporate wellness and personal training.

Greg holds a master’s degree in HPER (exercise science) (1986) from Morehead State University, Morehead, KY and a bachelor’s degree in Health & Physical Education (1983) from Morehead State University, Morehead, KY.  Greg is also an AFAA certified personal trainer (CPT).

He has worked with athletes and non-athletes of all ages and physical abilities and served as a conditioning coach at the collegiate level.  He also worked with the Kansas City Chiefs, during the offseason, in the early 1980’s.

He has been actively involved in the fitness industry for more than a quarter of a century as a club manager, owner, personal fitness trainer, and corporate wellness supervisor where he worked with more than 60 corporations.  Greg writes articles for many international publications and websites including Exercise & Health, IDEA Fitness Journal, American Fitness Magazine, Protraineronline.com, Fitcommerce.com, Personal Trainer University, and has a monthly column called “Treadmill Talks” in Personal Fitness Professional (PFP) magazine.  He has authored a book titled “Lies & Myths about Corporate Wellness” and has been a contributing author for two other books.  He currently serves at the President of the Association of Professional Personal Trainers (APPT).

Greg was an adjunct professor of exercise science at Avila University and currently serves on the faculty of Personal Trainer University.  He mentors and instructs trainers interested in Corporate Wellness through his Corporate Boot Camp System class.  He developed this course because of the need of CEOs and HR Professionals for achieving a means of positive, effective, and lasting change toward more healthy and productive employees.  His system is tested and proven and combines the three major areas that business needs to address if they are to see a return on their employee benefits investment.

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