Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation
SVP & Chief Human Resources Officer,
Sodexo North America
Companies need to take employee health and well-being seriously, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it can have a significant impact on the overall performance of the organization. In addition to the obvious – healthier, happier employees – organizations can save millions on health care and disability costs, increase workforce productivity, reduce employee absenteeism and decrease rates of illness and injuries. Additionally, corporate-sponsored health and wellness programs are an essential element to competitive employee compensation and benefit packages which attract and retain the best talent.
Implementing a workplace wellness program is easy. Implementing a workplace wellness program that successfully meets the needs of the individual and the organization is much harder. Companies have to integrate individual priorities with organizational strategies to produce results that will benefit the employee, their family, the organization and the community. Creating a corporate culture that makes healthy choices easy for employees requires lifestyle and behavior change that take time, perseverance and commitment. Here are three simple ways to make any corporate health and wellness program better:
Make Engagement Easy
Knowing what you should be doing to achieve a healthier lifestyle is one thing; actually doing it is much more difficult. Organizations that integrate activities into the work day can achieve much higher employee participation rates. Whether it is yoga classes in the morning, walking groups during the lunch hour, stretching exercises before meetings or encouraging mediation breaks during the day, employers and employees can gain a lot from making participation a part of every workday.
Make Education a Priority
Old habits die hard. For meaningful change to occur, employees have to commit mentally, emotionally, socially and physically to improving their health. The best way to inspire that level of commitment is through comprehensive education and constant reinforcement. Knowledge is powerful and organizations that educate employees empower them to make more informed choices.
Make Involvement Interesting
As with anything in life, the more interesting and appealing you find the activity, the more likely you are to participate. Health and wellness activities have to compete with numerous other demands on employees’ time. Programming that is fresh, dynamic, on trend and stimulating will keep people coming back for more. And hopefully, they’ll bring a colleague.
Building a strong health and wellness program may seem straightforward on the surface, but integrating it into the culture of the organization and ensuring that it is multi-dimensional to benefit various stakeholders is challenging. A well-executed health and wellness strategy is an investment in employee and organizational performance. The first step is agreeing on a shared vision that makes engagement, education and involvement the priority.