As the president of a corporate wellness company, Kinema Fitness, I have noticed a recent trend in the way companies are approaching employee-based wellness programs. Namely, companies are taking employee wellness more seriously now. They are truly trying to figure out the right solution to combat rising health issues and health care costs.
Unfortunately, too many businesses are trying to implement wellness programs with little to no experience or game plan for success. As a result, more programs fail than succeed.
So what’s the real problem?
Corporate wellness cannot be treated as a band-aid. And you definitely won’t be able to find it in a fitness app. Engagement, motivation, support and strategy are the keys to a successful wellness program. If employees are not involved in the solution, it’s difficult to succeed. Preventable wellness is a complete lifestyle and behavior change and change takes time and commitment.
If you’re ready to commit to a healthier workplace, here are five things to keep in mind as you design a wellness program for your company:
Create a higher level of awareness.
Americans are becoming more and more health conscious. According to the Mint.com blog, “Americans are buying more veggies and fewer cigarettes, carbonated soft drink sales continue to drop, and the fitness sector has grown 12% since 2007.” But due to higher stress, longer work days and constant multitasking, it is more difficult to find the time to act on wellness goals. Creating an on-site wellness program is important because the majority of an employee’s time is spent at the workplace.
Many chronic diseases are preventable.
According to the CDC, chronic diseases account for 75 percent of total healthcare costs. They are also the most preventable type of disease. Such illnesses include heart disease, stroke, cancer and obesity. The only way to prevent disease is with actionable steps to halt progression. When old habits are years in the making, you cannot expect behavior to change overnight. However, when a person is able to commit mentally, emotionally, and socially (and on a conscience level) progress is possible. An employee wellness program needs to address this through consistent education and layers of accountability.
Practice creative wellness.
Corporate wellness shouldn’t be boring. Creating unique and dynamic wellness programs that consistently evolve over time ensure the best possibility of long-term success. Human beings need to be challenged and stimulated in different ways (and they need different means to create change). Challenge your wellness program to stay on the latest trends; it will also help to appoint a wellness leader that takes direct responsibility over program operations.
Combat rising health care costs.
Health care costs are rising year after year. According to AHIP, “More than one-sixth of the U.S. economy is devoted to health care spending and that percentage continues to rise every year. Regrettably, our system is not delivering value commensurate with the estimated $2.7 trillion spent annually on health care.” Employers, especially those at small businesses, can simply not afford to take on this burden any longer. As a result, they are passing the costs on to their employees through higher deductibles. But healthier employees can actually help their own bottom line. Some employers are now lowering employee’s contributions with rebates if they participate in a wellness program.
Wellness programs are a complex, long-term play.
The success of corporate wellness is driven by the unique strategy behind it. It involves a framework that outlines short and long-term goals for the employee and the employer. Corporate wellness needs support, leadership, and commitment from the vendor, employer and employees. A successful wellness program takes time and constantly evolves so it can be integrated into the fabric of the company’s culture. Corporate wellness is not just one solution. It is the culmination of many solutions that work together under one strategy. It involves layers of physical activity, education, communication, incentives, and a long-term commitment.
When we think about what needs to take place, it seems fairly straightforward. However, the challenge lies in the execution. Behavior modification takes time and is different from person to person. It is possible, when reinforced consistently with different wellness programs, multiple touch points, strong leadership, and an unwavering commitment. I challenge both employers and the employees to think differently about wellness and what it means to them. If the end goal is healthier employees, then both parties need to be involved to share this common vision.
Joshua Love is president at Kinema Fitness. He moved to Los Angeles after graduating from Syracuse University and spent three years at IBM as a consultant. After making some tough decisions, Joshua followed his dream to California and worked for Equinox Sports Clubs, eventually becoming a master trainer.
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