I know. We're hearing "culture of wellness" everywhere we turn. But it is more than just a new HR flavor of the month.
Hopefully you've read my take on what's happening with the switch to high-deductible plans. Not only can making sure you provide employees with a way to fill the gap, between their current savings and their deductible requirements, help them with this transition -- making sure you genuinely have a culture of wellness at your company will go a long way in making your employees feel like you haven't left them hanging in all this health care reform riga-ma-roll.
The reality is, 40% of corporate wellness programs are not effective. You have to realize that if your wellness program amounts to some biometrics, some bouncy balls and some lip service, your wellness program won't be successful either.
To succeed, your wellness program must be an genuine expression of your company's culture.
When you succeed, you're not just improving employee well-being - you are also boosting your talent acquisition, as well as your employee performance and retention.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the returns on investment of an effective wellness program are significant and those healthy ROIs grow over time. A Harvard University study of 100 peer-reviewed journal articles found that a
properly designed wellness program can expect to yield an ROI on health care cost reductions of 3.27:1 and an ROI on absence and related costs of another 2.73:1 after about three years. These ROIs are nothing to sneeze at, and are something your C-Level executives can get behind. (To calculate ROI, the amount saved as a result of a program (e.g., lower health care spending) is divided by the dollars spent on the program. The result is expressed as a ratio, with an ROI of 2.50:1 indicating a return of $2.50 for every $1 invested.)
So where is the yellow brick road to an effective wellness program? It really does start with your culture. Here are some tips to ease on down that road.
I assume you have a business plan. And I assume that business plan contains not only your goals, but your mission, vision and values, which drive your goals. When all of those pieces are connected, you can grow the kind of culture you need to shape a work environment your employees find supportive.
Your wellness plan must have goals. You couldn't run a business without goals -- you can't run an effective wellness program without goals. What do you want employees to strive for? And how do these goals connect to the overall goals and your company culture? Once you've figured this out, it is important to share and explain these goals with your employees -- and get their buy-in.
But this means you have to take a step back, and make sure your employees understand your company goals and cultural values as well, or they can't connect the dots. They need to understand where your wellness goals for them fit into the big picture.
A 2015 Achievers survey of North American employees found that 61% don’t even know their company’s mission, and an additional 61% don’t know the cultural values of their workplace.
If your employees can't connect these dots, how can you expect them to buy-in? How can you expect them to genuinely engage? They need to be able to clearly see how the success of your business, and achieving your company's goals, depends upon improving their well-being.
Ask employees what they want
You would think this tip would be a no-brainer. If you want to create a wellness program that employees are willing to engage in -- simply ask them what they want and need. Surprisingly, many employers don't do this.
A 2015 survey of employees published by Quantum Workplace and Limeade, found that employees aren't interested in just biometrics and bouncy balls. They want benefits that address a broader definition of well-being, not just physical health. For example, 76.7% want time off to recharge and 60% want work-life balance benefits. Probably more basic requests than what you were afraid of, but the fact is, few employers actually offer these simple elements as part of their wellness program.
"...you are communicating to them that you value their opinions and care about their well-being, which boosts overall engagement, period."
If you'll ask, your employees might come up with some very simple, very inexpensive, very creative requests. And maybe you just want to phrase the question in terms of what would make it easier for them to do their jobs rather than tying it to wellness, especially if you already have a flailing wellness program that employees are not engaged in. Some well-being requests are bound to be among the answers.
By asking, you are not only finding out the best pieces to include in your wellness program to make it effective and engaging for employees -- but you are communicating to them that you value their opinions and care about their well-being, which boosts overall engagement, period.
In fact, the Quantum Workplace and Limeade survey found that respondents were 38% more engaged and 18% more likely to go the extra mile when they felt their employers cared about their well-being.
Make It Easy
Honestly, most of the wellness programs I've seen that are failing are making it too hard. Not only do employees end up feeling like it's just another monkey on their back -- so do the HR staff. It just ends up being another disconnect between employees and management.
It just makes sense. When programs are simple, employees are more likely to engage. A 2014 Aon Hewitt survey found that 40% of millennials said they’re more likely to participate in health and wellness programs if they’re easy and convenient. Don't ask employees to spend more time at work then they already are. Don't ask employees to give up their lunch or break times either. Then it's punishment -- and that doesn't improve anyone's well-being. If you're going to plan any events during lunch or breaks, employees need to see something in it for them that is enticing enough to engage them. They may very well be using their lunch and breaks to take care of household issues as it is, rather than relaxing and actually taking mental/physical/emotional rest. Create game-like programs that don't take away from work responsibilities. Set time aside -- yes -- out of the workday for exercise, and stress-relief breaks. Remember those ROIs?
Inspire employees. Tie it all in to your overall company vision, sewing it into a package with simple integrations and connections to the benefits, programs, HR platforms and apps you already use. That way, employees can easily access and share information about everything related to their health, well-being and performance in a transparent format.
Get everyone involved
Can your employees rub elbows with your CEO in your wellness activities? There is no better way to make your wellness program a genuine expression of your corporate values and culture. Your leaders need to be highly visible in your wellness program. "People don't do what you say, they do what you do" is completely true here. That's how you make it real.
The Aon Hewitt survey found that 53% of millennial employees said they were open to their direct manager playing an active role in encouraging them to get and stay healthy.
When your employees can experience a connection from top to bottom and bottom to top between your wellness program and your company culture, then, and only then, will your employees internalize the message that their personal well-being truly matters.
"Wellness Program ROI Depends on Design and
Steven F. Cyboran and Sadhna Paralkar, M.D.
Retrieved 3/2/16 from https://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/benefits/articles/pages/wellness-roi-design.aspx
Employee Benefit Advisor
"Why a client’s corporate culture is critical to wellness success"
March 29 2016
Retrieved March 29, 2016 from http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/why-a-clients-corporate-culture-is-critical-to-wellness-success
Rylan Klaseen & Associates
Rylan Klaseen & Associates
Serving Southern California: