This post is by Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles and an accomplished technology entrepreneur who brings more than 15 years of consumer loyalty, enterprise and consumer software experience. Leveraging Virgin’s philosophy that business should be a force for good, Chris’ leadership has been instrumental in guiding Virgin HealthMiles’ development of market-leading, technology-based products and services that help employers improve workforce health, boost employee engagement, and enhance corporate culture.
Wellness – what does it really mean? And why is it being tossed around so easily and often by the media, insurance providers and companies?
Many employers have offered narrow approaches to workplace wellness programs, focusing on weight, disease and diet and ignoring what actually syncs with company culture and benefits employees’ total quality of life. While aiming to improve these metrics in the short term can provide a few benefits, its impact on the company’s (and employees’) bottom line is vague at best.
A more effective approach – I call it Wellness 2.0 — means providing opportunities that make employees sharper, more engaged, productive and dedicated to their jobs through meaningful experiences that drive long-term behavior change and social connections that extend outside the office – all the while incentivizing them for a job well done. A culture-first mentality drives Wellness 2.0, creating more productive employees by focusing on their total quality of life, from work/life balance, to physical and mental health, to social, financial and spiritual well-being. It hones in on establishing deeper connections across the board, connecting employers and their teams with platforms that help people make healthy changes and support each other along the way.
But just how do you get to this nirvana while showing the critics that it’s about more than just how much you eat, your BMI or how many hours you logged on the treadmill last week? The key is understanding your employees, what makes them tick and taking the actions that set them down the path to being their best selves.
To help make healthy choices easier, many employers have started to make cultural and environmental changes, like removing fryolators from the company café, building on-site gyms and walking paths or offering stress reduction services as a part of their comprehensive benefits package. All of these initiatives shift toward a more supportive culture of wellness in the workplace.
Looking to institute efforts of your own? Create a plan that has a gradual shift toward replacing less healthy food items with more nutritious alternatives. A culture readjustment takes time and is more effective if employees feel like you’re on board with them. Once employees start to feel better about themselves and achieve personal goals, you’ll begin to tap their cognitive power.
Wellness catches on, whether that’s in the workplace, at home or with friends. We recently conducted a survey of 10,000 employees and found that 70 percent believe wellness programs positively influence the culture at work and 58 percent feel their participation had a positive influence on their colleagues, friends and family.
So while it may seem silly to worry whether or not your cube neighbor is eating an ample amount of veggies, getting enough sleep or putting enough money in their 401k, these things have an impact when it comes to morale and teamwork. We spend most of our waking hours at work, and employees want to feel part of a community, especially one that encourages and pushes each other to meet important goals.
Wellness initiatives evolving from a “do this, don’t do that” employer-mandated program to something more culture-driven that focuses on a Total Quality of Life approach will be the winners over the long haul. With 87 percent of employees claiming that health and wellness programs play a role in determining their employer of choice, why not wield the opportunity as a recruiting and retention weapon for your business?