Is your wellness program sick and tired?

Mar 20 2014 by Jon Denoris Print This Article

Spring is traditionally a time for a good clean-out, for starting afresh. So what about the way we approach wellness in the workplace? Isn't that getting pretty stale, too? Perhaps it's time for an overhaul.

Many employers feel duty-bound to offer their people some sort of "wellness" program. So they end up paying lip-service, trotting out the same old boring ideas and offerings. How many in-house gyms sit there underused and gathering dust? How is that effective – let alone cost effective?

Or there's giving away cheap, inaccurate pedometers (because the company next door did that…) which will only get thrown after a few weeks.

What about health screenings? What do these actually achieve? In the main, they measure and highlight "previous health failures". They don't measure successes and they certainly don't track lifestyles, either . So congratulations, you've just done something else to make your employees even more de-motivated.

Whilst well-meaning, it's no surprise that this myopic approach doesn't lead to long-term engagement from employees or to increased energy levels, improved morale, or reduced absenteeism / presenteeism (let alone weight loss). A recent survey here in the UK found that the majority of employees believe that their employers don't really care about their health & wellbeing at all. So what can be done to raise the bar & create life-changing wellness programmes that actually work?

How about trying a six-point plan.

#1 Focus on the Partnership

It might sound a bit progressive, but why not asking your people before installing that gym whether they really would use it or would they prefer to just have decent showers which would actually cost less and encourage them to cycle to work or go for a lunchtime run?

Getting your team involved early on in the decision-making process is much more likely to result in initiatives that people will support. What about creating a partnership between employee and employer and focusing on lifestyle and behaviour?

#2 Have a Strategy

Here is the first big mistake that I see individuals & companies make. Whilst we believe in making it as easy as possible to get your team "moving", there needs to be a focused strategy, involving top management (preferably board-level) as to what success will look like.

So you need the sort of culture where it really is ok to take 20 minutes out during the day to take a walk or just do some movement. Of course this requires you as a CEO's or business owner to both be brave and to trust your team, no problem right? It leads on to ….

#3 Creating your own Wellness "Tribe"

Whilst hanging out with other people who share the same wellness goals can be a great way to cement positive habits social and improve self-efficacy, in order to achieve this, it has to be engaging.

This can be a real life tribe or online (see point 3). The thing is, it can be tricky to get right, so make sure you get a few chiefs (or champions) who can act as energizers and help keep the tribe "sticky" often these champions will naturally emerge from within the team.

#4 Become Battleproof!

Focus on managing your ENERGY levels not just your time. Whilst most outdated wellness programmes are still trying to reduce stress (good luck with that) we show people how to become more resilient and gain a competitive edge. We use movement, cutting edge nutritional strategies and technology, too.

#5 Wellness 3.0 Use Technology as an "enabler" of wellness.

As the cost of "wearable technology" products comes down, they can be applied within the workplace wellness setting. In my role as a Nike Master Trainer, I have seen first-hand how gadgets such as the Fuelband are changing the relationship that people have with their own health.

More and more of my clients now monitor themselves (or "biohack", as it's called) and the results can be wirelessly sent to me wherever they are or I am in the world. It's coaching but on a whole new level!

#6 Understand the Drivers of Change

Any wellness programme inevitably has to focus around helping people achieve "movement of the mindset". This might be taking up a healthy positive habit – something as simple as moving more during the working day - or giving up a negative habit such as smoking.

In some ways these are two sides of the same coin. You need to be able to answer the following two questions:

  1. 1. Is the change worth it?
  2. Am I able to make the change?

The message here – and it's one I'm passionate about – is that you can keep fit wherever you are, even if you're at work.

"Mind and movement are parts of the same entity" (Maria Montessori)


About The Author

Jon Denoris
Jon Denoris

Jon Denoris MSc CISSN is a Wellness Coach and Nike Master Trainer. He owns Club51, a bespoke health & wellbeing studio in central London, and is the author of the forthcoming book The Pop Up Gym, published by Bloomsbury.