Episode 58 – How to Build a Sustainable Wellness Program
A healthy workplace is a must for any organization that desires to be future-proof.
To collectively fulfill the vision and mission of your organization, its people should be healthy – holistically, not just physically and mentally. And how do you achieve this holistically healthy workplace? With a sustainable wellness program, of course! Not one of those half-baked, poorly executed one-day seminars – I mean a real wellness program. Wellness is a lifestyle, a culture, a way of living.
The following are steps work towards building a sustainable wellness program:
1. Set the culture from the start
The most important thing is setting the culture from the start. The usual order of command in any organization is top-down. The leaders set the tone of the workplace, and everything they do becomes an example for all employees. If you believe in health or fitness, this philosophy will trickle down to your people. This is not only because the leaders make the decisions, but also because most employees respect and admire their leaders as well.
What to do:
A true leader sets the example in your organization – everyday – not just wellness month. Live the healthy lifestyle.
2. Define your champion team
A champion team can make anything happen. Simply build and nurture a community with a passion for health and fitness and share in its values. This strong, energetic, and supportive environment will create a place for others in your organization to go for help and guidance. It’ll also be the driving force for recruiting and growing your wellness program from within your organization as opposed to being forced upon your organization in an artificially packaged way.
Good leaders should also be involved with the champion team too. As they say, lead by example. This will also allow you to truly understand and experience healthy workplace relationships with them (excuse the pun). This also reduces the often intimidating, “superhuman” image of bosses, and replaces it with a more approachable, relatable, real life person.
What to do:
Find your champions and bring them together over a meal. Here’s a simple formula to follow:
Shared passion for health and wellbeing + food = a health and fitness mastermind.
3. Work to improve policies
Policies may sound like a stiff set of legal mumbo-jumbo but really it’s just a set of rules that someone made up. They can be easily changed as well – just get out the eraser…jokes…Use policy to your advantage and create a healthy workplace by default.
Policies tailor made to facilitate a wellness program would result in a collective pathway towards more habitual, healthier lifestyles for all and by virtue of culture (re-)creation.
What to try:
Create a weekly program that focuses on specific goodness. For example, Motivation Monday is a great way to start the week! Every Monday inspirational stories about fitness can be shared in the office to create a stronger environment for health and fitness. It’ll also create a snowball effect within the workplace and will be much more sustainable and encouraging than a weight loss challenge. Fruit Friday is another good one.
How else can you build a sustainable wellness program? Read on.
4. Know who’s really running your organization
It’s important to understand real workplace dynamics.
Often, when you’re a leader you can quickly forget the reality of your organization. While you may be CEO or “Boss” on your business card, there may actually be other people influencing your organization – for better or worse. Influencers and connectors are those people in your organization that others admire, look up to and go to if they need anything. They are the true leaders of your organization. It’s important to know who they are and work with them to create the best environment for your organization. They can also be very helpful in advising you about what your organization may need to improve in regards to health and wellness issues because they are in contact with “their people.”
How to find them:
Get on the office floor and start to chat to your team. Keep an eye and ear out – the “real leaders” will appear before your eyes.
5. Market your program
In order to get people to attend your wellness program, you need to promote it. This doesn’t mean pinning it on the corkboard in the kitchen – no one reads that anymore.
Marketing techniques such as word-of-mouth, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), email blasts and empowering the gatekeepers would be most effective strategies to try.
Give this a go:
Empower the security guards and the receptionists to promote your wellness program. They are in contact with everyone almost everyday.
6. Good execution
A quality program needs quality organizers involved – staff who can deliver a top-notch, smooth-running event – pre, during and post event – all year round.
This would involve good organizing in all aspects – logistics, technical work, timing and planning, as well as execution of the event. Even a good presenter is critical to engage and inspire your workplace – someone who not only has expertise but is entertaining as well!
Outsourcing your wellness program to professionals. They know what works and what doesn’t because they’ve seen it all before – it’s their job to make it great!
In order to continuously improve the program, you must evaluate each session – and the program – from the very beginning. Surveys and focus groups are good ways to measure satisfaction and the specific areas of focus.
There’s three basic types of evaluation: process, impact and outcome evaluation. Process evaluation is a feedback loop on the mechanics of your program execution, while impact and outcome evaluation relate to the program itself. Impact evaluation is directly after the program session (eg. a workshop series). Meanwhile, outcome evaluation would normally be at the end of the year – or end of the program intervention.
At the end of the day, your program should fulfill its purpose – to impact people’s lives for the better. In order for it to be sustainable, there must be long-term goals for its audience. While you ultimately set the culture in your organization, your champion team will drive and sustain it. Keep your ear to the ground and work with your influencers, try new and novel marketing strategies to extend you reach and outsource your wellness to professionals build a sustainable wellness program in your organization.
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Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness.
Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness. International Athlete, Elite Performance Manager for the Philippine Volcanoes rugby teams, qualified Dietitian / Nutritionist and qualified educator. Chris Everingham combines more than 10 years of experience and education together to deliver the best strategies to grow your mindset, rewire your habits and transform your life.