Corporate wellness programs generally aim to address several key areas of health and wellness, while tailoring the specific offerings of these programs to the needs of their workforce.
At the same time, planning and evaluation steps are taken to ensure that the wellness strategy of the organization meets its top strategic priorities and is otherwise in line with corporate values.
Two examples of this correlation, from actual corporate wellness programs, are outlined below:
Values & Priorities
Strategic objectives and values of the organization are the crucial foundations upon which any successful corporate wellness program should be built. It is widely understood in the corporate world that clearly defined values and mission statements can significantly impact how successful a company is in achieving its aims and goals. As Simon Sinek explains in his famous TED Talk, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
In an era of conscious capitalism; when consumers are more informed than ever as to the companies they support, consumers are also experiencing a plethora of choice in the open markets. This is precisely why so many corporations have developed core values which align with their key strategic priorities, as well as the core values of their consumers, employees, and stakeholders. One such value-inspired strategy, which is growing in popularity across companies of all sizes, is a commitment to making long-term investments in human capital, which some argue, is a company’s most valuable resource.
It is good practice, and indeed increasingly common practice, to outline a clear ‘people strategy’; a strategy that “outlines the company’s approach to and relationship with its employees” (Williams, 2006). Whole Food Market’s core value to promote team member happiness and excellence is a good example of this, which sets the stage for them to promote health and wellness in a number of creative ways- from all-expense paid wellness immersion trips to healthy eating store discounts. This essential underpinning will serve to ensure the smooth development and implementation of the next stages of a corporate wellness program.
Health & Wellness Promotion Areas
The following chart published by the World Health Organization summarizes the main areas addressed by workplace health promotion programs. Early approaches to workplace wellness focused mainly on the area of Occupational Safety, in order to prevent accidents and other costly, preventable workplace traumas. All other health promotion areas were largely left out of consideration. Consider workers on the Hoover Dam: their daily work was so dangerous, many people died in the process of building the dam (AmtlTV, 2015). With safety such a primary and urgent concern, there was little time to consider personal development, team-building, or promoting healthy lifestyles. Needless to say, we’ve come a long way in the time span of just one century.
The above areas consist of Occupational Safety and Health, Workplace Design and Organization, Healthy Lifestyles, Understanding Cultural Diversity, Non-Occupational Factors, Improved Health Services, Leadership, Communication, and Team Building and Personal Development and Learning. Each of these corresponds with a desired outcome of a wellness program, those of which should be set forth by management in the early stages of wellness planning. Within each of these eight areas, specific wellness offerings are developed to meet the needs of any given workforce.
Once the strategic objectives and values, as well as desired outcomes of the program and the corresponding health promotion areas are identified, specific wellness offerings can be developed and integrated into the operations of the company. These come in many forms and are therefore categorized under many different names, including wellness services, benefits, and perks to name a few. Ultimately each wellness benefit is categorized according to the wider wellness area which it serves (see Health and Wellness Promotion Areas, above).
Most companies pick and choose from the wide array of possible wellness benefits to select the offers which are most likely to be popular among and benefit employees. Take a company like Lululemon- the fast-growing fitness-wear name attracts both employees and customers with an interest in staying fit while simultaneously looking great. As a result, one of the corporate wellness offerings of Lululemon to their employees is free fitness classes held in store. On a regular basis, customers and employees are encouraged to come together, to enjoy a communal yoga class: to socialize and exercise, all while strengthening the firm’s brand image as a health-conscious employer. Team members are encouraged to live the healthy lifestyle that the brand advertises to consumers in the marketing efforts. This type of initiative has a double return; employees are fitter, happier, and more productive, and at the same time help to boost sales and customer loyalty as they serve as ideal brand ambassadors.
Firms considering implementing a wellness program or strategy are not limited to mere fitness classes, but rather should note that the possibilities for potential wellness offerings are limited only by one’s imagination. The following list should serve to provide a sampling of some of the health and wellness promotion offers available to business leaders today for their consideration.
Occupational Safety and Health
Health & Safety Workshops
Workplace Design and Organization
Avoidance of Hazards
Ergonomic Workplace Design
Optimization of Working Conditions
Exercise classes provided on work premises
Support to quit smoking
Fitness trackers & wearable tech
Health Promotions & Campaigns
Free Bicycles/ Cycle to Work Scheme
Fitness-themed social events
Nutrition & diet support
Healthy menu in employee canteen
Health snacks in vending machines
In-house gym or subsidized gym membership
Understanding Cultural Diversity
Promotion of Cultural Awareness
Communication of customs/norms/laws
Making Flexible Practices the norm
Family Welfare Support
Access to counseling
Improved Health Services
Online health services
Health fairs & events
On-site medical facilities
Wellbeing days (Paid time off)
Personal Wellness Savings Account
Alternative Medical Treatments
Stress management support
Mental Health Care
Weight Loss Support
Stress risk assessment
Regular health screenings
Private health insurance
Personalized healthy living programs
Employee assistance programs
Leadership, Communication, Team Building
Team Member Appreciation
Team building opportunities
Bottom-up idea generation and communication
Personal Development and Learning
Personal development classes
Continued Professional Development
Performance Reviews and Constructive Feedback
It is important to bear in mind that this list is by no means comprehensive and additional offerings or initiatives, which support employee wellbeing and excellence, should be brainstormed and considered by the employer when designing a wellness program.
These initiatives can be carried out in-house, though many companies outsource specific wellness services or in some cases, the entire area of employee health and wellness benefits.
I hope that was helpful for you! What kind of health promotion programs does your organization offer?
“About Our Benefits.” Accessed November 19, 2016. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/careers/about-our-benefits.
AmtlTV. “Hoover Dam Megastructures Documentary National Geographic Documentary.” YouTube. February 24, 2014. Posted November 20, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnPi3FdNBYc.
WHO. “Workplace Health Promotion.” December 8, 2010. Accessed June 25, 2016. http://www.who.int/occupational_health/topics/workplace/en/.
Williams, Chris. “Key Components of a Good People Strategy.” 2006. Accessed November 20, 2016. http://clwill.com/wp-content/uploads/Key%20Components%20of%20a%20Good%20People%20Strategy.pdf.