When you take a look at your workforce, what do you see? Do you see a group of healthy people in the prime of their lives, enthusiastic to be at work every day and delivering the best service possible to customers? Or do you see a bunch of sick people, struggling with their weight and unmotivated to work hard?
For most workplaces, it’s the latter. In fact, workplaces with that kind of culture are so common that they are almost accepted as normal. It’s just what working is like, right?
Well, it turns out that when people get healthy, the way they behave changes dramatically. They are more productive. They’re more enthusiastic about their work. They’re less likely to take time off sick. Some people even become more creative.
With all those benefits, you would have thought that employers would be climbing all over themselves, trying to provide the best corporate wellness programs possible. After all, the human and business benefits are enormous.
Sadly, that’s not the case. Even now, companies are still relying on medical insurance premiums to keep their employees ticking over. The average employee is heavily medicated on drugs to control everything from depression to hypertension to diabetes. Is this really the workforce you want? Is this really the workforce you have to have?
It’s important not to see corporate wellness as a band-aid. Instead, it should be viewed as a method for improving the lives of individual employees. When it comes to lifestyle, each person has their foibles, and each person has their own reasons for pursuing wellness. Companies can’t force people to act in a way that achieves health, but they can provide fertile soil to make it happen.
If you’re on the cusp of developing your own corporate wellness program, here are some things you need to consider.
There Are No Quick Fixes In The World Of Corporate Wellness
Diet isn’t the only determinant of health, but it is an important one. And studies on diet show that the people who are the most successful in getting off all the junk are those that make the transition over a long period of time. Going “cold turkey” rarely works when it comes to food. People find it hard to shift. There’s an enormous cognitive cost to changing one’s diet, thanks to the massive change in behavior it requires. You need to learn new cooking methods, recipes, shopping habits and tastes.
The same can be said for corporate wellness. There is no short term fix. Instead, changes have to be made over the long term, which is why you should have a plan that maps out progress months and years ahead. If you try to foist corporate wellness on your employees too quickly, they will question your motives, get upset about it and try to battle you. But if you introduce one small thing at a time and sell it to employees as something which will help them, then you’re far less likely to face resistance down the road.
The gradual approach, therefore, is a great way to make corporate wellness a part of your company culture. With repeated exposure to healthy activities and behaviors, people start seeing them as positives, not negatives, and the whole working atmosphere starts to change. Rather than going for a burger at lunch time and a beer after work, people start bringing their own recipes from home and playing squash with each other at the local gym after working hours.
People Could Get Seriously Sick At Work
We like to think that people who are of working age aren’t at a high risk of getting seriously ill while at work. Yes, they might come down with a cold or get injured while on the job, but they’re young and healthy enough not to have to worry about the complications of chronic diseases, like heart disease, right?
Unfortunately, that’s just not true anymore, if it ever was. Heart attacks for instance, still kill more than 600,000 people every year. Therefore, as sites like cprnearme.com point out, companies need to be able to respond quickly whenever heart disease strikes. Corporate wellness isn’t just about prevention, it’s also about managing emergencies when they arise. Your team should be trained in basic CPR, providing first-response to life-threatening situations before the paramedics arrive. Events like these can serve as a wakeup call for the rest of your team to start working and living better.
Teach Your Team That Most Chronic Diseases Are Preventable
The medical establishment wants employees to believe that the only way to safeguard their health is to have an expensive insurance plan. But the science doesn’t back up their claims. CDC.gov, for instance, claims that chronic diseases account for three-quarters of total healthcare costs. And the NIH says that around 90 percent of type 2 diabetes, 80 percent of heart disease and 30 percent of cancers are preventable through lifestyle and diet choices.
For businesses, this is a big deal. Chronic diseases are no longer something which just affects people of retirement age or older. People in the twenties and thirties are coming down with diabetes, and people in their forties are having heart attacks.
Companies, however, might actually be in the perfect position to promote health. Research has shown that people find it hard to stick to lifestyle changes when they have to do them alone. However, the science also shows that when people commit as a group, they’re far more likely to be successful. The best corporate wellness programs, therefore, are those which get the whole team involved, making sure that all employees support one another.
Avoid Boredom At All Costs
Some companies think that the solution to wellness is to get people to eat better. That’s part of it. But they go about it the wrong way. Serving employees a bunch of boiled vegetables is hardly inspiring.
The good news is that there are all sorts of ways of making wellness enjoyable. Competitions, delicious recipes, epic outings in beautiful countryside: it can all help inspire and make a difference in your employee’s lives.