It is a sad fact that most corporate wellness programs fail to meet their goals for a variety of reasons. However, many others do succeed and they have lessons to offer that can greatly help improve your corporate wellness program’s chances of success.
Don’t attach monetary rewards or penalties to fitness goals. One of the biggest reasons why corporate wellness programs fail is their insistence on taking a “carrot or stick” approach, in which employees who achieve health goals are given financial rewards, while those who don’t are penalized. The main problem with this approach is that it destroys team spirit and breeds resentment and lower morale. It may also promote competiveness among employees, which could affect workplace productivity.
A much better approach is simply to build a culture of wellness in the workplace that makes it easier for employees to make healthy choices without feeling coerced. One way this can be done is if the CEO and other top company officers demonstrate their own commitment to wellness by, for instance, doing their own exercise program in the office, and encouraging employees to join in.
Focus on overall wellness rather than meeting health goals. While it is important for employees to meet goals such as losing weight and stopping smoking, it is more essential that you build up their self-esteem, since having a positive outlook directly contributes to making it easier for them to adopt healthy lifestyle choices. Keep in mind that an employee who is overweight but maintains a healthier lifestyle can contribute more to the workplace than one who is thinner but smokes and stays up late at night.
Solicit employee feedback. When creating a workplace wellness program, it is important that you listen to what your workers want, rather than forcing health goals on them. For example, if you want to promote increased exercise, you can ask your workers what program they would want to adopt, i.e. a walking club in which employees take time out for walks with employees who successfully complete a goal being honored, or reimbursing members if they join a gym.
Encourage employees to set their own personal health goals. Holding informal get-togethers to encourage employees to set their own wellness goals can greatly contribute to employee morale as well as improving their well-being. Examples of personal goals include, “I want to play basketball three times a week and ”I want to lose ten pounds before I attend my high school reunion”.