Wellness seems to be the new buzzword for large companies in attracting and retaining talent and lifting the productivity of their workforce. The excitement is palpable and creative ideas abound. Yet some wellness programs seem to hit the mark better than others. Many wellness programs are a series of zany ideas that temporarily grab the attention of your staff until the next shiny thing comes along. Here are a few tips to increase the likely success of your program a few years down the track.

A clear why
We are reaching the point where not having a wellness program could sound downright old-school. Just because your key competitors are talking wellness does not necessarily mean you must too. Take time to stop and survey the landscape. For what challenges facing your organization is a wellness program a solution?

The strategic tick
Sounds commercial? So should your wellness program. Can you prove that your planned
wellness program will contribute to the key strategies for your organisation’s success? “Yes!” I can hear you enthusiastically reply. Great! Can you also demonstrate that you have full buy-in from your CEO and Executive team? Why not start with the CFO? Decide what other initiatives it may compete with, or better still what initiatives will it align with? How do you keep it off the list of cutbacks for any future economic downturn?

Does your program design reflect what your staff love about your culture as well as what they want to change? It’s best to innovate rather than borrow your design elements from other companies. A bit like your company values, does your program unmistakably and uniquely belong to your organisation? It may be a fantastic idea to bring in a meditation guru, but do your multi-tasking managers really believe in mindfulness? What elements of your program uniquely capture your company’s heart and soul?

The diversity factor
Could any of your wellness initiatives threaten a sense of belonging for certain staff? A gut-busting triathalon may have huge appeal for your younger workforce and those trying to avoid some less appealing features of middle age, but is there anyone it could alienate? Does your program play equally well to all cultural backgrounds, age ranges for the women and men in your workforce?

A holistic approach
Some wellness programs strongly target physical health and wellbeing, while others are more about personal resilience and building inner resources through mindfulness. What are the productivity and wellbeing challenges facing your workforce? How can your wellness program help people to feel more engaged? What aspects of wellbeing do you want to emphasise to create a well-rounded program: emotional, physical, social, financial, spiritual? Overwhelming? Remember this is a marathon and not a sprint. To avoid being just a fad, your wellness program needs to last the distance. Make sure you map out each phase and ask what needs to come – when and why? A client recently decided to delay their wellness program until they ran a project to ignite their social purpose as an organisation, realising the uplift would be significantly higher as a result of sewing this seed first.

Imagine running a workshop on the power of superfoods to boost brain function right before the CEO ducks out for a Redbull! Or a workshop on emotional intelligence in the middle of an executive meltdown. While wellness programs are often born out of HR and OHS functions they must be championed from the top. Does your top team model the
wellness program? Do they align with the plan for your program? Is it possible some leadership habits could undermine the key messages of your wellness initiative?

And the joy factor, of course !
Now you have all that sorted, wellness programs are a unique opportunity to engage the whole person at work and help them connect with what they love about their role. The best way to overcome any cynicism with your program is to ensure a big, contagious dose of fun and happiness on the way!

Leading Well is a boutique leadership consulting and coaching firm which recognises that it is no longer enough to improve surface-level leadership skills without ensuring that the foundations on which they are introduced are as strong and healthy as possible. We offer the highest standards in leadership development, cultural and strategic facilitation and wellness mentoring programme design.

To find out more about how Leading Well can help you, please contact us.