Business of Well-being

Wellness Starts Inside Out

Working from the Inside Out

A firm's culture takes time and energy to cultivate and works best when it comes from the inside out. The book "Outside In" in which Manning and Bodine discuss success stories of firms that put customers at the center of their business to create a culture that thinks about the customer in every decision inspired this term.

This approach not only inspired new programs around customer satisfaction, it inspired the ideas discussed in this article to create a culture of wellness from the inside out. Offering wellness rewards are on the forefront of a desirable benefit program. Culture comes in all forms, yet one of the easiest and most effective ways to have satisfied employees is to focus on the employee's best interests in all areas.

Make employees feel special by working towards explaining the why with changes and shifts and truly caring and giving back to each employee. Wellness is a cultural shift that will benefit the organization as a whole with happier, healthier and more engaged employees.

Many firms are focused on offering wellness benefits, yet may simply check the box of a wellness program that does not work for all their employees. For example, doing one wellness fair a year with free health screenings is a wellness "offering" but it is one day a year and may not include all employees that cannot attend.

The goal needs to be to cultivate wellness year round in a way that works for all employees. To create any type of cultural shift, the core of the firm must support the cause with this inside out approach. The below are some wellness ideas to integrate as a key part of a firm's culture.


If it's there, it will be eaten. Get rid of the temptations of unhealthy food such as soda machines and vending machines with chips, cookies and candy bars. Start fresh by offering more healthy options to choose from. For catered meetings or events, present a variety of wholesome and fulfilling food that will fuel employees to sustain the remainder of the day. Below are suggestions:

  • During the Day Meeting - salad bar with a variety of greens and toppings, locate a local restaurant to outsource such as Sweetgreen, Salad Creations or order from the salad menu of a favorite lunch restaurant like Panera. Provide fruit as a sweet option after the meal and only offer water.
  • Happy Hours - select appetizers that are fresh and lean; skewers of meat and veggies, crudit platters, fresh fruit, seafood, hummus. As an alternative for those that do not drink, provide flavored seltzer water.
  • Off-Site Event - cater with various stations that most venues offer with a veggie stir-fry, carving station for lean meats and select fresh fruit and sorbet for dessert.


Communication is a topic that is typically missed when we think of providing wellness. Yet, lack of communication regarding new policies or changes can be detrimental to overall morale and take away from productivity. The water cooler talk goes rampant, "Can you believe that they took all our vending and soda machines away?"

"Have you noticed the food portions in the cafeteria are less and they are charging more?" "Did you hear that they are going to let go 20% of the workforce and my group is the first they are targeting?" These types of conversations go on and on - day in and day out.

Communication of why certain changes are being made can save organizations and give relief to employees. When we know why something is happening, it is much easier to digest. Let's go back to the concerns above with added communication:

  • In an effort to cultivate a culture of wellness, we are removing the soda and vending machines and replacing with healthier options as we care about our employees and want you to have the best possible choices to fuel your body.
  • We have offered a subsidized cafeteria for as long as we have been in business and we know you enjoy the perk. Yet, we are looking at all expenses in an effort to improve our bottom line. We recognize now that we cannot sustain all the choices we previously made and apologize for any inconvenience, as change is difficult, especially if we stop offering something you really enjoyed. We have made the following changes (insert changes).
  • We want to address the rumors around the latest workforce reductions and the following groups will be impacted. We will let you know by next week the specifics. Again, please bear with us as we are doing the best we can to sustain as a firm with the most productivity possible. As you have seen, we have been losing money in this part of the organization and do not see a change in the market to support this group in the near future.

    We recognize you may be concerned with your job security and we will be working to transfer some of you to other parts of the organization and for those that we, unfortunately, must let go, we are offering severance packages and any assistance we can on providing a positive reference for your next employment opportunities.


Offer a variety of wellness rewards and survey employees to determine what they are most interested in receiving. Below denotes some options:

  • Wellness Dollars: employees are free to spend at their leisure on wellness related items: gym memberships, massage, personal training, specific classes or lessons, equipment to support their home gym, these dollars can go towards anything related to overall well-being.
  • On-Site Movement: classes during working hours to support physical movement throughout the day, it is best to survey each workforce to offer that which will be most popular. In some firms, yoga might be popular and others many enjoy a running group or weight class.
  • Group Interaction: kickstart team inclusion by doing a wellness challenge such as focusing on nourishment or movement for a set duration with prizes and opportunity to come together as a group to discuss simple changes and realizations.
  • Health News and Suggestions: distribute frequent communication on health and wellness with a variety of media to include articles, videos, quotes, facts and cartoons.
  • Wellness Fair: host at least one wellness fair each year and bring in vendors to offer a sample of healthy food and products. Have movement classes as part of the fair and give free chair massages. Provide raffles to give away wellness prizes; massages, gym memberships, glass water bottles, etc. Another option for a wellness fair is to offer health screenings.

The bottom line is overall well-being drives success whether personally or professionally. At the employer level, simply take the approach of inside out with employees at the core of every decision. It will come back tenfold with loyalty and dedication as we tend to put energy to that which feels good.

About the Author

Kerry Alison Wekelo is the Director of Operations at Actualize Consulting where her Leadership and Wellness programs have successfully influenced a teamwork environment. Contact Kerry at

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