Business of Well-being

Diagnosing Workplace Health: Is it Time Your Company Had a Check-up?

Diagnosing Workplace Health: Is it Time Your Company Had a Check-up?

Whether your corporate wellness program has been rolling on for a while or is recently introduced, a corporate wellness check-up enables you to step back and see if your program's performing at the level you hoped and invested towards.

The wellness program check-up below addresses the crucial outcomes of successful corporate wellbeing. If your program doesn't measure up to these six points, chances are you're not staying ahead of the wellness curve.

1. Is your wellness program accessible, achievable and attractive to every employee?

The only thing worse than not offering a wellness program is offering a wellness program that a large number of employees feel they do not want to be a part of. Triathlons, marathons and corporate sport events are great, but they are also only attractive to about half of one percent of your workforce.

When a wellness initiative is not graded to all health levels, ages, lifestyles and abilities (and importantly disabilities) it will immediately be disregarded as unattainable. If your initiative is not immediately accessible and attractive to all workers, it can be a case of healthy workers getting healthier, while those who most in need are left behind - where your healthcare costs are higher.

There needs to be an element of catering for the lowest, common denominator; those that exercise regularly at a reasonably strenuous level are not your most immediate priority. The key is to make a wellness program that is fun and fully accessible - an enjoyable entry back into activity for the less active and a challenging activity for the more active worker.

Check up remedy: Those who are most at risk are the most reluctant. These employees need to be supported to overcome their fears and self-doubts without being overwhelmed. Gentle beginnings that are accessible to all and dependent on gradual personal improvement, not rigid pass/fail goals, will yield the best results.

Questions to ask your provider: How effective is your program at reaching those most at risk? What is the profile of your average participant? How will you appeal to all my workers regardless of their personal fitness and health situation? Can you prove that you can reach the high health risk workers - a majority, not a minority of my workforce?

2. Is your wellness program available in all work sites/offices?

Do not let your participation rates be hindered by geographical location or work sector. Multiple work sites across states/countries can often be a roadblock for many organizations implementing a wellness program. Likewise, an organization with a workforce spanning multiple sectors (i.e. sedentary office workers right through to active manual laborers) can often have a program that is out of alignment for some of its workforce.

Ideally, your program should be 100 percent accessible to your entire workforce and equally attractive to all roles. Finding a multi-faceted initiative that meets these goals instantly increases the likelihood for success.

Measure participation levels and use them as a powerful tool to show management that you have a program with reach. The more reach, the greater the increase in participation - and the higher the return on investment.

Check up remedy: Web-based initiatives are the most effective for including the majority of your workforce. Look for an initiative that is fundamentally simple, for both you and your employees.

Questions to ask your provider: How broad-reaching is your offering? Can you serve a multinational organization? Is the program in multiple languages and tailored for different cultural considerations? What level of support will I get? How can you create a feeling of mutual achievement across multiple geographical locations and roles?

3. How excited are your employees about your workplace wellbeing initiative?

If your well-being initiative isn't exciting and engaging, there is little likelihood that it will be successful. An apple a day may keep the doctor away - but how do you make eating the apple fun? The golden rules are engagement, engagement, and engagement.

Engage your workers with a program that is multifaceted, supportive, enjoyable and scientifically-proven. With that, you are well on the path to a happier, healthier organization. Any effective program must have evolving excitement, interaction and constant motivation - not just launch hype that fades in a couple of days.

Everyone gets excited when they join a gym or start running or take up yoga but only those who have a deep, self-driven motivation keep going. So find a program with built in motivation and milestones.

Check up remedy: Your aim is long-term behavioral change that is enjoyable every single day, not short-term excitement that dissipates quickly. Plot success and ensure everyone has access to their individual achievements on a daily basis. Make achievements fun, unique and aligned with your organization's brand and values.

Questions to ask your provider: You shouldn't need to ask how fun and engaging a program is. If a provider cannot show you, then how on earth are you going to convey it to your employees? Instead ask - how will you engage my employees for the long term? How excited will they still be in 4, 8, 12, 16 weeks time? How do you combat the natural ebb and flow of commitment to a new initiative?

4. Do you effectively communicate your wellness initiatives?

If there is not an awareness of a workplace health program, its effectiveness will be minimal. The best answer to combat this is to incorporate a wellness initiative that creates the awareness for you. This will not only make your job easier, but it will also greatly increase your program's success.

Choose a program that provides the resources to spread the word both in the physical workplace and through email or web-based resources. The average email open rate is around 30 percent, so by using email or internet alone, you are instantly reducing your reach.

Posters and other creative resources displayed in the workplace won't just get your program in front of more employees, but if effective, will change "water cooler talk" from weekend plans to that of an intriguing new health initiative. Many health and well-being programs are dull, so choose one that stands out and generates excitement.

And because an uninspiring flyer above a coffee station will damage rather than sell the quality of what is offered, ensure your provider-supplied resources are amazing and engaging in every way. An effective internal communications stream is also vital.

A great way to promote your wellness program is to find wellness champions within your workforce to help create stronger communication paths. As they organically influence their colleagues, they will give your program greater exposure thereby giving your program a greater opportunity for success.

Check up remedy: Get top level buy-in. A challenge from your CEO may just see the masses enrolling just to get their shot to take on the head honcho. Utilize your internal communications personnel and ensure the program you choose will support them with plenty of resources as well.

Questions to ask your provider: How will you help us build a groundswell of excitement for the initiative? What promotional material do you offer both online and off? What is the program's communication schedule and what resources are available for my organization/employees? How will you empower centers of influence to champion the program?

5. Does your wellness plan take a holistic and long-term approach to workplace wellbeing?

An effective program should incorporate exercise, nutrition, stress management, team-work, self efficacy and life outside of work. A corporate wellness program cannot be a separate silo just bolted on to your organization. You must develop a culture of health, which aligns all the benefits outlined above as core to your organization.

When employees see their employer as one that truly believes in their health and well-being, they are more likely to trust the organization's wellness initiatives. This in turn fosters loyalty and increased preferred employer status. Wellness must be for the long-term. Workplace health is about developing new habits and to do this takes commitment and a long-term outlook.

A smoking cessation program is not about giving up cigarettes for the duration of the program, it's about a life-long behavioral change your corporate wellness efforts must be long-term as well.

Check up remedy: Studies have found that wellness programs that go for 100 days or more are the most effective at creating long-term health and well-being changes. Find an initiative that focuses on the long-term.

Questions to ask your provider: Do you measure results beyond the duration of the program? Do you have any proof of mental-health benefits? Is nutrition part of the program? What science do you have backing your program? What other health resources will be available to my workforce?

6. Can you prove positive results?

Look for the key indicators of a successful wellness program. Is your absenteeism rate falling? Is there increased employee awareness about healthy eating choices and personal responsibility? Are employees becoming more active? Are they losing weight? Is their morale higher? Are teams working together more? How is the energy level in the workplace?

Are workers returning from long-term illness more quickly? Are behaviors changing for the positive? A wellness initiative must measure these before, during and after the program. Whether it is an internal employee health assessment, or even better the provider does this for you- the only way to evaluate the effectiveness of a wellness initiative is to have these statistics documented.

Corporate wellness is not a nice-to-have, it needs to prove its worth and pay its way. Choosing an initiative with proven results and one that provides exact reporting takes the guesswork out of corporate wellness which in turn makes your job a lot easier. With proven results to report, you will get more buy-in from management.

Similarly, a proven track record means kudos and easier access to wellness budgets for you.

Check up remedy: Find out which statistics matter to management. Being open about these with your provider means you can tailor your wellness initiative to address the most pressing issues regarding your organization's health.

Questions to ask your provider: Do you have any medical/independent research? What is the level of reporting you provide? Which different aspects of corporate wellness can you provide accurate measurement and reporting on? Can you make the reporting easy and something I don't need to take time on?

All of these indicators tell you how healthy your workplace is and whether your wellness strategy is working as effectively as it should be. If you are not getting tangible results, chances are your wellness programs need reviewing.

Most importantly, always keep in mind that corporate wellness is not about just ticking some corporate wellness box - it's about your people's health, and that is both a big responsibility and a wonderful opportunity to enrich lives.

Be sure to choose a corporate healthcare provider who tickles the boxes, answers the questions and delivers the successful outcomes that your organization deserves.

About The Author

Glenn Riseley is Founder and President of Global Corporate Challenge (GCC), the world's largest and most exciting corporate health initiative. Delivering scientifically proven results, GCC has helped more than 2,500 of the world's leading organizations to achieve positive, lasting employee and business health returns. To learn more please visit

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