Corporate wellness has reached a stage in the adoption curve at which the early majority is fully on-board and the late majority are at least aware of the necessity. Although it has become more commonplace for companies to develop programmes for staff wellbeing, a lot are still quite primitive and aren’t necessarily having the desired effect.
So, what is going wrong with corporate wellness programmes and what are the pitfalls to avoid when developing your own?
One of the key issues we see is a lack of clarity on what issues companies are trying to tackle. Often teams tasked with creating a corporate wellness programme know they should be doing something; they just aren’t clear on what. Knowing the issues being faced on both a subjective and objective level allows for specific and data-driven programme design. If presenteeism due to stress is your key issue, an incentivised cycle to work scheme might not be the best use of your time and money.
It is critical that a programme is designed with specificity. Knowing the areas that can have the greatest impact on staff, and therefore the business, allows for targeted interventions rather than generic programmes.
Following on from the previous point, understanding the financial implications of current trends also allows for appropriate budgeting. Often it is hard to know how much to invest in wellness programmes as the ROI isn’t always tangible. Companies will often invest the bare minimum into a programme, reducing the quality, the availability and the effectiveness of any interventions.
Having a good grasp of the metrics, current costs and potential savings of a structured staff wellness programme allows you to make informed decisions. If you know that absences due to stress are costing £80,000, then investing £10,000 into a programme that aims to reduce this by 50% is an obvious move.
It is important when rolling out a wellness programme that staff feel they have “permission” to look after their health. Often companies will offer corporate gym membership, but staff can feel judged or frowned upon by line managers and co-workers if they make use of the gym during work hours. Companies will also bring in nutritionists to discuss healthy eating and then stock the canteen and vending machines full of unhealthy food…!?
It is important to look holistically at the message you are conveying when you are introducing any intervention and ensure that all stakeholders are on-board with it to ensure that as many barriers to success are removed as is possible.
Outcomes not measured and processes not analysed
This last point again comes back to data; not knowing the outcome or the effectiveness of a programme prevents you from iterating. If you run a mindfulness course to deal with stress-based absences, you need to know what the penetration levels were and if/how much it has helped tackle the problem.
If it hasn’t influenced the metrics, you may assume the course was ineffective, but then if you see you only managed to target 5% of staff, it could highlight a problem with communication, culture or funding.
Staff often cite their reason for not taking part in health initiatives in the workplace is a lack of awareness. Either through a lack of communication or using the wrong media, staff are usually unaware of what wellbeing schemes are available to them and feel unsupported to utilise what they do know. If emails are ending up buried below the hundreds coming in every day, they may not be seen as high priority.
Methods such as posters in canteens, on notice boards and even on the back of toilet doors can be quite effective in ensuring staff are aware of any new and ongoing initiatives. Weekly team meetings are also a good time to refresh and remind staff of the initiatives on offer, and to make useful suggestions as to how they may make use of them with the support of the business.
Corporate wellness programmes need to be a lot more than “hit and hope”. If you realised the necessity of it, then you are way ahead of the laggards. The next step is to ensure that your programme is effective. If you need advice and guidance in diagnosing, analysing and creating a structured programme to tackle issues being faced, take a look at our Company Wellness Audit service and see how it can help your staff and your company health.