In this post, we will cover the 3rd of the most commonly implemented workplace wellness strategies. In my previous posts, I covered Outcomes Based and Participation Based strategies. This post will cover Culture of Wellness strategies, and in the next post I will explain the expected participation rates and various incentivizing strategies based on different wellness budgets. In the final post, I will outline some great resources to access and Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to look for when evaluating results and measuring success.
Developing a Culture of Wellness (COW) is when an organization works to implement a wellness program that supports changes in individuals, but in a way that is different than simply applying a premium differential or monetary incentive. When an organization chooses to focus first on a COW first, they will be more likely to land on a wellness program that resonates with employees and increases engagement and participation. The basics of any wellness program include a focus on tobacco cessation, improving nutrition, increasing physical activity, and improving compliance with recommended health initiatives from one’s own physician or care provider. Additional elements that may be added include dental health, stress management and sleep quality. At the outset, developing a COW might appear to take more time and effort than a Participation or Outcomes strategy because it is a more systemic approach to creating change. Some examples of supporting and developing a COW include: adding yoga classes at lunchtime, lunch and learn seminars, providing healthy options for vending machines, offering primarily healthy options if there is an onsite cafeteria, chair massages, fun wellness challenges like Health Enhancement Systems’ Walktober , having treadmill workstations like the amazing Trekdesk, and most anything that communicates and markets efforts to support employees activating their personal wellness plan in a convenient, fun, and pleasurable way. Team challenges present a great platform to engage employees as well.
Like any good design, developing a COW takes more thought and effort at first, but then it becomes easier over time to sustain as grassroots efforts take hold and employees begin to adopt changes and become advocates within the workforce. Harvard Business Review provides great insight in this article that speaks to choosing a program that complements your current business model and structure to ensure longevity and support. Once you lay the ground work and demonstrate with action to employees that you care about their health and our willing to make it easy and convenient to improve their health at work, then employees will begin to trust you have their best interests at heart. As employees acclimate to the new environment, you can begin to make incremental changes to the healthcare plan that they will be receptive to, such as implementing a tobacco-free policy. If an employee has a positive experience, they are highly likely to influence their coworkers and their family members. And since dependents on a plan tend to incur a larger portion of the claims cost, doesn’t it make sense to leverage employees to influence their family members? The best part about Culture of Wellness strategies is that they tend to be sustainable and broader reaching. They also limit the need for complex administration and steep regulatory hurdles. Next up I’ll go over ROI expectations for each type of strategy and discuss some examples, as well as best practices.
What’s your favorite example of implementing a Culture of Wellness?