I was part of our organization’s wellness committee in the late ’90s. We were passionate about bringing our own approaches to healthy living to all of our co-workers through creative programs. But there was a problem—Our workplace wellness strategy, one that focused almost solely on physical health, was only effective in reaching those who shared the committee members’ interest in physical wellness. The one-dimensional wellness program wasn’t making a broad impact.
Our workplace wellness program looks a lot different today, with a focus on holistic well-being through programs that meet diverse individual needs across our workforce population. This wellness approach was affirmed by Chuck Gillespie, chief executive officer at the National Wellness Institute, as he shared ways wellness programs can have more meaningful engagement and outcomes in a recent International Foundation webcast, “Wellness Benefits: Trends and Best Practices.”
Gillespie suggests that a one-size-fits-all mindset is the root cause of ineffective wellness programs. He offers a different angle on the goal of a workplace wellness program: “We want our employees to healthy, happy and not dread coming to work every day.”
[Related Education for U.S. Plan Sponsors: Health Benefits Conference & Expo | January 20-22, 2020 | Clearwater Beach, Florida]
Here are a few highlights from the ideas Gillespie shared to help move away from a one-size-fits-all wellness program to one that reaches more individuals:
- Communicate to multiple audiences in ways that speak to each. One-size-fits-all messaging is too generic. People opt themselves out of a wellness initiative simply because they don’t see anything that fits them.
- Consider customization. Assess what works as one-size-fits-all and how parts of your wellness program can be customized to meet varying individual needs.
- Increase inclusiveness with knowledge, awareness and skills to deliver equitable and culturally appropriate programs. Increase engagement through a focus on equity in offerings rather than equality.
- Address stress. Today’s most prominent health risk in the workplace is stress. The most common stressor is money. Build a financial wellness program that goes beyond retirement planning and investment strategies to financial literacy.
- Impact physical health through emotional wellness. Capitalize on your EAP and provide workers with tools to build resiliency and coping mechanisms.
[Related Education for Canadian Plan Sponsors: Canadian Health and Wellness Innovations Conference | February 23-26, 2020 | Savannah, Georgia]
Watch for Upcoming Workplace Wellness Program Webcasts
This webcast was the first in a series of wellness-focused webcasts scheduled this year and offered free to International Foundation members. Watch this session on-demand, and plan to catch these upcoming topics for more ways to build a future-focused, engaging wellness program:
- September 19, 2019: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder: How Plan Sponsors Can Curb Rising Costs
- September 26, 2019: Bridging Safety and Health: How to Create a Comprehensive Worksite Wellness Initiative
- October 3, 2019: Improving Employee Financial Wellness Strategies
- October 10, 2019 (World Mental Health Day): Suicide Prevention: What About the Workplace? (Registration opening soon)
- October 31, 2019: Workplace Wellness Research Survey Results From the International Foundation November 2019: Organizational Health and Well-Being—The Next Frontier (Registration opening soon)
Ann Godsell, CEBS
Director, Professional Development Marketing at the International Foundation
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