Business of Well-being

Romania - CHWA Chapters Advance Wellness Initiatives in Europe

Romania is the first European country to partner with the Corporate Health and Wellness Association (CHWA) and launch a CHWA chapter to advance health and wellness in the workplace. Under the leadership of Alina Grozescu, effective September 23, 2015, employers in Romania will receive access to wellness education through this partnership.

"I am excited to help incorporate wellness programs in Romania," said Grozescu, the president of the Romanian CHWA chapter. "It is an honor to be able to help educate employers on the impact corporate wellness programs have on healthcare costs and productivity. It is also wonderful to play a part in improving the lives of employees across the world. I look forward to working with the CHWA to accomplish these goals."

The employers in Romania-as well as other CHWA chapters-will receive benefits from the CHWA in their work, improve the health of employees and spread the messages of wellness. The Romanian chapter can use the established CHWA brand and trademarks in their own marketing initiatives. This will help them align themselves with the excellence expected from the CHWA. They will also have a seat on the Global Wellness Advisory Council (GWAC).

The Romanian chapter will receive a dedicated monthly column in the online edition of Corporate Wellness Magazine and will have priority in submitting other articles. This will allow chapters to demonstrate what they are doing and to highlight any events they may have coming up. "We are proud to announce the launch of our chapter model, and the association will launch chapters of the CHWA across the country and the globe," explained Jonathan Edelheit,  Director, CHWA and Editor-in-Chief Corporate Wellness Magazine.

"Together, we will create a network of leaders who will share best practices and create lasting effects on reducing non-communicable diseases and implementing the most cutting-edge wellness programs in the workplace." Within the CHWA chapter framework, each chapter has the right to market and sell the CHWA's wellness certification, the Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist (CCWS) designation and the accompanying textbook Engaging Wellness - Corporate Wellness Programs That Work.

The certification course teaches everything employers need to know to make a wellness program successful. The program is updated regularly and students have access to special webcasts that will inform them of any breaking news, ensuring that they are always on top of the latest developments. The CHWA is a leader in LinkedIn with a total of 1.5 million followers in associated groups. Chapters have access to these groups with monthly featured LinkedIn discussions to promote their chapter.

Chapters will also have their own subgroup with the CHWA group to use themselves and create awareness of the chapter's activities. Chapters will also receive discounts and passes to the CHWA's annual conference, the Corporate Wellness Conference (CWC), part of the Employer Healthcare & Benefits Congress (EHBC). Along with  participation in the annual CWC, chapters will be able to host their own conference with support from the CHWA to set agendas and speaker, ensuring their conferences meet the standard expected of the CWC.

The Corporate Health and Wellness Association (CHWA) is committed to advancing health and wellness in the workplace and bringing the industry players together to advance the industry. Edelheit explained the new CHWA chapter initiatives in more detail. "Now we are taking this dedication to the local level, whether it's your city, state or country," Edelheit said.

"We are committed to work on a local level, dealing with specific local and unique wellness issues and creating a grass-roots effort to make an impact in health and wellness. We are very excited to have the first CHWA chapter in Romania and to work with Alina to spread the wellness message. We look forward to having new chapters enter the fold so we can work together to make the world a healthier place."

The Emerging Romanian Wellness Market

Wellness in Romania is still in developmental stages. "Right now, large corporations in Romania are testing the waters," said Grozescu. "They are experimenting to receive feedback, but there is still a lack of proper evaluation of what employees want and need." Grozescu attributes this to a lack of experience, not a lack of judgment. Things are starting to move in the right direction, she said. Most companies are developing a wellness program, if they have not already rolled out one wellness activity already.

Once companies start investing in these programs, more metrics will come out to track their return on investment. Wellness programs are prevalent within Romanian technology companies to keep employees engaged, motivated and working at their current company. Many multinational companies have offices in Bucharest and other large Romanian cities, too, that offer the same wellness program at all of their sites across the world.

Romanian wellness programs typically focus on the physical side of wellness such as sports and proper nutrition. Larger companies will offer wellness benefits that will be familiar to their American counterparts like gym memberships, onsite massages and healthy food options. Companies are starting to incorporate the emotional and spiritual side to wellness as well by introducing stress-management classes, health coaching and meditation classes.

Wellness providers are reporting excellent feedback according to  Grozescu, and participants in these wellness programs are happy with these offerings and are asking for more. "This means employees understand how corporate wellness programs improve their lives. The challenge now is to get employers to create programs that target their employees' needs," said Grozescu." This is fertile ground for the wellness industry to grow.

More and more vendors are operating, and more companies are beginning to see the benefits that wellness offers their bottom line. Grozescu feels that in this environment, it will only be a few years before the concept of wellness become well established. Currently, there is little government regulation of the wellness industry in Romania. There are no stimulants or tax incentives for companies to sponsor wellness, but Grozescu feels this will change soon.

"In a few years, the law will ask more from employers than to keep their workers safe from severe risk," she said. "Companies will need to invest more in the wellbeing of their people, to make sure that they are healthy and happy. We're already seeing some efforts in this direction."