Business of Well-being

Strategies for Success for Global Corporate Wellness Programs

A Follow-up to the 3rd Annual Corporate Wellness Conference & 2nd Annual Global Benefits Conference's 2011 Educational Session

The Corporate Health and Wellness Association recently concluded its Annual event that took place October 26th-28th in Chicago, IL.  Another stellar event, it was sponsored by the Corporate Wellness Magazine, the official publication of the Corporate Health and Wellness Association.

At this year's 3rd Annual Corporate Wellness Conference, I was privileged to design and facilitate a crossover session with the 2nd Annual Global Benefits Conference entitled, "Strategies for Success for Multinational Corporate Wellness Programs."

Two of the nation's top global corporations joined the panel:  Procter & Gamble's U.S. Benefits Design Director, Sandra Morris and Hewlett-Packard's Global Benefits Program Manager, Celina Moraes.


In this session we set out to share how to implement strategies in your company that will motivate your employees to make lifestyle changes.  From my experience coaching individuals and companies around the country in the area of health and wellness, I've discovered seven essential components for a successful wellness program.  In this article I lay out these seven principles and offer a few of the highlights from this engaging session!

In brief, here are the 7 components:

  1. Motivation
  2. Education
  3. Personalization
  4. Perspiration
  5. Collaboration
  6. Repetition
  7. Inspiration


First, allow me to define motivation as: something external that gets individuals moving toward a desired outcome.  Motivation can come from a variety of sources-including internal company heroes, recognition, and incentives such as cash, premium reductions, etc. Sandra Morris, Director of U.S. Benefits Design for Procter & Gamble leads their global wellness program entitled "P&G Vibrant Living:  How to live vibrantly in life."  

In our session, Sandra indicated the necessity to include motivators like incentives to help motivate individuals to get involved in the company's programs.  "We do have to motivate people to get engaged," Sandra shared.  "They're not going to do it naturally.  It's just not human nature for the majority of human beings.  There are people out there who will do it automatically, but the majority of the people aren't there.  So we do do things to motivate people to get on the bandwagon," Morris states.


One of the less obvious ways a company can motivate its employees is by undergoing a "culture change."  Sandra Morris of P&G shared how in everything P&G does, they attempt to "make their entire corporate reflect their commitment to healthy living."  Two examples of the ways they have done that include making it easy to make better choices.  They have branded the healthier choices with the P&G "Vibrant Living" logo.  

The stairwells also have the "Vibrant Living" logo. From my work as a fitness trainer and weight-loss coach, I've found that individuals are motivated both positively and negatively.  Sandra Morris affirms that in her program, employees had the opportunity to earn rewards as a result of participating.  

She went on to state that P&G then revised their benefits package to include an in-network deductible.  With this in-network deductible employees however, can completely eliminate that deductible simply by engaging in the P&G "Vibrant Living" wellness program.  As a result, Sandra indicates their engagement level increased 134%!


Inspiration is something internal that keeps individuals moving toward a desired outcome.  Each individual has their own reason(s) for wanting to get healthy/fit.  An effective wellness program must help employees uncover their "why"-which will in turn help the individual stay on track with their long-term health goals.

There has to be a point where an employee determines his or her "why" and then determines to be engaged for themselves.  But sometimes in order for a person to get to that point, they need outward accountability first. I teach that there are four levels of accountability:

  • Public  (large group)
  • Team
  • One other person (i.e.  coach)
  • Self-self mastery.  You want your employees to get to this level.  You want your employees to get healthy for themselves.


Personalization is the next component I want to share.  An effective program should include a variety of offerings to fit one's work schedule, family situation, physical location and unique personality-including group, one-on-one, online and in-person access points.

I happen to be 6 ft 5 inches tall.  As such, my nutrition plan will not likely fit someone who is 5 ft 5 inches tall.  They probably couldn't follow my plan and maintain their weight.  Likewise, when designing and offering a wellness program it should contain a certain amount of personalization to fit the needs and nuances of your employees.  

All employees should be captured in some type of funnel and receive your health and wellness message. To illustrate this component, Sandra Morris shared how it's important to think about the type of personal and group challenges you institute.  And include both physical and non physical activities -such as eating your required fruits and vegetables for the day.

A successful wellness program recognizes that "physical" wellness is just one component of wellness and offers program that reach the "whole" person.  Both P&G and HP take a three-pronged approach to "wellness" that includes physical wellness, financial wellness, and emotional wellness/stress management.


A variety of exercise and physical activity is essential to an effective wellness program.  Your wellness program should include activities for every fitness level and promote progression as one's fitness level increases.  Furthermore, an exercise program is a great way to help individuals transition from unhealthy habits to healthy habits.  

Exercise also releases beneficial hormones as well. Celina Moreas, the Global Benefits Program Manager at Hewlett-Packard launched "Winning with Wellness," the framework for HP's wellness program.  HP launched "Winning with Wellness" as a pilot in the US and has since launched in 33 countries, with initiatives in Physical Wellness, Stress Management and Financial Wellness.

In 2011, HP implemented a Physical Wellness Challenge under the "Winning with Wellness" framework called "The Global Wellness Challenge."  This 12-week challenge was launched in all the countries, with 90 countries represented and 54,000 employees participating.  

In total, 11,000 teams worldwide registered and participated in the physical activity challenge that measured pedometer steps, exercise minutes and weight-loss.


Success requires teamwork-Mentors, coaches, partners, etc.  A successful wellness program encourages "buddies" or "teams" and integrates collaboration into its design. Teamwork is vitally important.  In almost every area of life, the most successful endeavors we're engaged in involve teamwork or collaboration.  

Yet weight-loss is the one thing we try to do by ourselves. At Procter & Gamble, Sandra Morris and her team have "Vibrant Living Champions" throughout the company in various countries.  Similar to a "team leader, these "champions" are out in front of people talking about the "Vibrant Living" program on a regular basis.  The champions are also individuals whom employees can go to and share their ideas, etc.


Information about your company's wellness programs and resources must be promoted frequently through a variety of mediums! Through her experience, Sandra Morris of P&G has found that it takes at least 6 "touch points" per year for the employees to "get it" and know that the program is available.  

Such touch points includes home mailings, email reminders, team meetings the company newsletter. Both Sandra and Celina utilize company champions to keep the message in front of employees and they affirm that company champions have a very positive impact on employees.

Repetition also includes the strategic use of branding.  P&G's orange sunburst represents their health and wellness brand-It is communicated throughout the organization and on all wellness related communication.


No matter what country your offices resides in, there are certain core components that a successful corporate wellness program share.  A successful program has the ability to motivate its employees, gather teams, personalize its programmatic and fitness offerings, lead employees to discover their "why," and communicate their wellness message frequently and effectively.  Ultimately, a successful corporate wellness program helps employees make life long lifestyle changes that result in healthier, happier employees, and a more productive workplace.


Pete Thomas is a full-time motivational speaker, author, and corporate wellness consultant who specializes in helping companies increase participation in their wellness programs.  In 2005, Pete Thomas lost 185 lbs in 9 short months to became the Season 2 $100,000 At-Home Winner of "NBC's The Biggest Loser."  

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