Corporate Health & Wellness Summit 2019: Key Takeaways

Late last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Corporate Health & Wellness Summit in Scottsdale, AZ. Companies that presented included Craft Brew Alliance, Zappos, Exxon, Salt River Project, Beehive, IOA and U-Haul. The one thing that these companies all had in common, other than being leaders in their industry, was that they all had extremely successful wellness programs.

Personal Growth Mindset was a key takeaway for me. Such a simple solution that can change the direction of any company, and did in fact for one in particular. Out of the following keywords, they challenged their employees to achieve at least five each day. This was not a choice, in fact, when a person is hired by this company, they are asked to sign a wellness contract as a part of their employee work agreement. Intention, Power-hour, Mindfulness, Checking-in, Gratitude, Movement, Reflection, Nutrition, Sleep and Hydration. Once this program had been launched, within a year they had found that less than 1% of their employees were taking sick days!

If you build a wellness program, will employees come? The answer is a resounding NO! The key is to put tools out there for employees to access and then gauge success at a later date. Traditionally, employees are excited for tools to change however, most employees don't want employers involved in their business.

Time is on your side, seriously! Have you given yourself enough time to make change and see an actual ROI? All successful wellness programs have had time and high level buy-in as their common thread. Creating wellness for your employee community can result in a significant ROI, however, most companies give up too soon without looking at the small increments of change.

Engagement is key, but it is important to create engagement by making changes to your program in small, sometimes weekly increments. Ask yourself the following questions; What is the data telling you and most important, are you keeping track? Do you have a multi-year plan for change?

We have hit a time where the employee workforce is aging, stressed over finances and are complacent when it comes to their health. Wellness can no longer be optional in order for a company to have a successful business model. Leaders need to speak to their employees directly and tell them that they expect to see trends heading in a positive direction over time.

The second part of this equation is handled by the HR team. They will become empowered through implementation and engagement strategies. Engagement cannot be enforced at most companies however, by simply including the spouses in your wellness communications, tends to increase engagement levels. Speak direct to the family members and outline your commitment to them. In fact, the most successful programs invite families into the office to participate in workshops and discussions!

Metabolic Syndrome was a HUGE topic in most of the talks. One of the biggest problems facing employers today is how to help their employees combat this cluster of conditions. According to the AHA, approximately 34% of the population are at risk to experience this cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol. When combined, these increase a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes and impacts their work productivity and your insurance rates.

The solution isn't easy but by implementing the following steps will lead to a healthier and more productive workplace. Education will lead to lifestyle changes; Fitness Classes to lower stress, body fat and assist in weight loss; Relaxation techniques to lower stress and blood pressure, Team Building and CSR to increase wellbeing.

Another company found the most successful programs achieved higher than average engagement rates by breaking down their employee community into three lifestyle groups; 1 - For those intimidated by fitness and nutrition and contemplating their journey, 2 - For the person who’s active in health and fitness, 3 - For those in need of Chronic Disease Management. Each group received a customized message that discusses programs and goals designed to fit their specific needs. In addition, all employees were able to view a weekly health and wellness newsletter that was waiting for them in the companies restrooms!

Do you know what attributes to the highest healthcare costs for most employers? For many companies Smoking has taken a back seat to Opioid Addiction. By implementing mediation, massage, acupuncture and pain management talks, you can attack this problem head on.

One of the above companies asked their employees direct via confidential survey, where they were when it came to opioids use (which excluded chronic conditions). They were stunned to find that 1/4 of their staff were long term users! This led to the realization as to why their health care costs had been through roof.

In your face targeting is awesome. Imagine a giant Colon as a walkway through the entrance of your building. Employees are overwhelmed by emails, so why would they want to stop and read your wellness message. Instead, set up a table in the kitchen and ask employees to sit down with you for a few minutes and tell you about how they see a wellness program being implemented. How about creating new parent workshops or new parent financial planning for college and investment strategy talks. Normalize taboo topics such as Mental Health and Anxiety. For Breast Cancer Awareness, give away Booby Prizes at your events, Implement random fitness flash challenges late in the afternoon to keep employees alert. Surveys are great but tend to become a complaining fest. Look for more info than what can be surveyed. Implement open house for wellness discussions run by your C-Suite.

And what about those Millennials? The most sought after group of employees in the work place. What drives this special demo. They are happy, healthy, think that they have the answers to all problems and feel entitled. How can you get their attention, in an extremely competitive marketplace? The thorn in this demographics side is simply financial. They are in their 20s and most straddled by college loan debt. Why not create a program to attract and retain Millennials with an offer to pay off a portion of their debt once they become vested at your company. Now you have an employee who is present and dedicated to the success of your company.

If you would like to find out more, please take a look at my online calendar and lets schedule a time to discuss FitPros and our wellbeing solutions that can elevate your wellness program.