Wellness days have been undertaken for many years with varying levels of success. They are usually a day set aside for the company to host talks, invite in benefits suppliers and staff come away with a goody bag from the local gym and a branded pen from the health insurance provider.
OK, so they’re not always that bad but I have attended my fair share, and some have been as ineffective as that. Let’s look at why some do work and why others are a waste of time and precious resources.
When they don’t work
I have been involved in wellness days that seem nothing more than a tick box exercise; wellness day done and staff wellbeing sorted… check! Focusing on staff health for only one of the 260 working days of the year is about as effective for going to the gym once a year. If a wellness day is the only tangible offering your company has for staff wellbeing, then it’s time to up your game.
Being overly cautious with budget
Companies seem reluctant to spend money on what is often perceived as just a perk. Such companies generally have not analysed their own data to assess just how much money they are losing to poor staff health and morale. This view results in an avoidance of bringing in quality speakers, workshops and class offerings in favour of bringing in people who will speak for free and local businesses that will pounce on your staff in the hope of a sale. Which brings me nicely on to the next point…
The expo-style wellness day
Bring in all the suppliers on your flex benefits package, stick them in a large multi-use area and invite your staff to go and meet them all. Sound familiar? This is a classic wellness day tactic and I’ve been on the supplier side of the fence on several occasions. Staff enter the room looking nervous as the salespeople behind the tables look on eagerly. More often than not, staff usually end up huddled into small groups moving round the room trying to get some information without being sold to. Yes it may well be cost effective, but it does not give staff a real chance to understand the benefits on offer.
When they do work
Used as a kick-starter to launch an ongoing programme
A great way to use a wellness day is to promote the upcoming wellness offering for the year, to give staff a chance to come and find out what is going to be available in a non-salesy environment. It’s a great use of time and money and there are a couple of ways in which I have seen this work successfully.
Running a series of taster sessions is a perfect way to allow staff to see if services are right for them. This could include Yoga/Pilates/posture classes, mindfulness classes, run clubs or even healthy breakfast mornings. Conducted well and with good follow up communication, this is a great strategy for getting a wellness programme started!
Talks and seminars
Bringing in experts to deliver talks, workshops and seminars on various areas of health and wellbeing is a great way to inspire change. These are especially effective if they lead into an ongoing programme of sessions or classes. You could have a talk on mental wellbeing that steers staff into using a mindfulness app. A talk on looking after physical health could get staff signed up for a posture-specific class run onsite.
More than one day
Wellness weeks and fortnights are becoming a more popular option. They allow information to be spread over a greater period of time allowing for better information retention. You could have a lunch and learn each day on a different topic, a different physical or mental wellbeing class, different food options and even 1-on-1 sessions that can be booked across the period. This also helps to keep the conversation around health going for longer.
Solve a problem
A point I come back to repeatedly is the need for specificity. If you have a high rate of stress-related absenteeism and presenteeism, then a wellness day focused on back care may not solve your problems. There is a case for including common themes such as musculoskeletal health, mental wellbeing and nutrition; but make sure to focus heavily on issues specific to your company.
Best Practice and keys to success
Looking at the times when wellness days work and when they don’t, we can establish some best practice guidelines which should help you to create an effective wellness day that’s well worth investing in.
- Ensure it is more than a tick box exercise
- Go for quality rather than cheap or free
- Avoid the expo style wellness day
- Use it as a kick-starter and communication tool for your ongoing wellness programme
- Offer taster sessions for upcoming classes
- Run talks and seminars that lead into further services
- Extend it beyond a single day
- Be specific when designing it
If you are looking for help in creating a wellness day that actually boosts staff wellbeing for the other 364 days of the year, get in touch with us here and our team will be happy to help.