One-Size-Fits-One Workplace Wellness

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.

One-Size-Fits-One Workplace Wellness

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:

Ann Godsell, CEBS
Director, Professional Development Marketing at the International Foundation


Related on Word on Benefits:


Director, Professional Development Marketing at the International Foundation

Favorite Foundation Product: Face to face conferences. Benefit Topics That Grab Her: Benefit communication, preventive health, health care cost management, workflex Favorite Foundation Conference Moments: Meeting Dr. Andrew Weil at the Annual Employee Benefits Conference was a cherished opportunity. She also loves the times when she and a member recognized each other at a conference because of interacting on Twitter! Personal Insight: Known around the office as “appropriately paranoid,” Ann is usually prepared for a variety of potential outcomes in most every situation.

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