6 Steps to Cultivating a Culture of Wellness
Poor employee health is costing organizations $576 billion annually, according to the Integrated Benefits Institute. This can be broken down into direct and indirect costs of wage replacement, medical pharmaceuticals, and lost productivity. Most organizations don’t have the funds to evaluate the true cost of internal poor employee health at their organization but can look at large-scale studies to determine the major issues related to poor health. One common theme across organizations is that a culture of wellbeing helps organizations survive in all environments.
“A culture of wellness is viewed as one in which individuals and social entities are able to make healthy life choices within a large social environment that values, provides, and promotes options that are capable of producing health and wellness for everyone regardless of background or environment. In short, the healthy choice becomes the valued and easy choice.”
-Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
A healthy culture means thriving employees. Engaged employees feel connected with their company, drive innovation, and move the organization forward. Organizations that have a culture of wellness have employees with 3x higher creativity, 31% higher productivity, and 37% higher sales. Having a culture of wellness can also bring on a financial reward. Employees working for an organization that has a higher wellness culture, have healthier and better performing employees, with a cost savings of $2,200 per employee. When employees are healthy, both the organization and employee benefit. You hear a lot about culture, but here are six keys to building a culture of wellness at your organization.
1. Stated values and health-related policies: This refers to the scope and type of company values and health policies. These policies reflect the commitment to company well-being. Examples include well-rounded health benefits, flex time, smoking policies, and adequate vacation time. These policies show your employees you care about them not simply as people who "get work done" for the organization but as people. A well-designed wellness program further demonstrates to your employees that you care about their well-being and that of their families.
2. Supportive environment refers to physical work structure, like safety, ergonomics, lighting, healthy eating options in vending machines and in the cafeteria, smoking policies, opportunities for physical activity, and the employees’ perception of their work environment. Making the healthy choice the easy choice helps to promote a culture of support and well-being, The International Well Building Institute provides additional guidance on designing a built environment that promotes health for employees.
3. Leadership support: When leadership has “bought-in” to wellness, employees participate and engage at a higher rate. Higher engagement at all levels promotes positive outcomes in health, biometric screenings, and chronic disease management. Strong communications from leadership at all levels should occur at the beginning, middle, and throughout the life of the program. Furthermore, leadership must participate wholly in the program, communicating the reasons behind starting a wellness program, reporting regularly on successes, and joining a spring fitness challenge or attending a virtual yoga session. Do as I say, not as I do, also holds true for wellness leadership.
4. Strategic planning: Among the top three factors for driving employee engagement, better employee health, and lowering health care costs is proper planning. Assessment and strategy are important when developing an employee wellness program, but we don’t know which programs to implement if we don’t have a strategy. This has to come first in order to develop initiatives to drive positive health outcomes. You don’t know where you’re going with wellness if you don’t have a plan to get there.
5. Resources: A healthy organization requires adequate resources including senior management support, effective communications, and of course, a dedicated budget. Often, an organization has some resources available from a health insurer or other partner, but not enough strategy or a plan to implement a successful approach that promotes the right culture.
6. Employee involvement: Employees from all levels should have an opportunity to provide input to your program. A wellness committee that meets monthly that includes someone from marketing, sales, field workers, people answering phones, etc is more likely to attract a broader range of participation. An effectively run committee provides employee feedback and contributes to the program mission.
Having a culture of wellness can bring better health and even some financial gains for your organization, a win-win. At Wellness Workdays, we can provide assessment, strategic direction, implementation, and evaluation of your employee wellness program, helping you cultivate a culture of wellness to show your employees you care and to help your organization thrive. Visit our website and contact us to learn more.