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  • Tatum Souza

How to make your Wellness Program 'work'


This article was inspired by EBN’s white paper titled “Do you know the signs that your employees are struggling? Lindsay Bailey (FitPros CEO & Founder) specifically encourages you to listen to the key takeaway “Think Holistically Many employers think offering voluntary benefits is like checking a box – something that can be done quickly and without much deliberation. However, programs without thoughtful preparation are rarely successful in terms of education, enrollment and satisfaction. Voluntary benefits should be considered an integral part of the overall benefits package.

In the last two months there has been an influx of articles circulating among the HR community, that discredit and/or encourage HR leaders to doubt or cut their Wellness Programs entirely. This development is detrimental to their culture and in turn success. Think about it, the people (employees) who are affected by the elimination of Wellness Programs, are the people who are being asked to give their heart and sole to their company and work. If they aren’t happy and healthy, why would the business they are working for be?

I know what you are thinking. Yes I do work for a corporate wellness provider, and no I am not just looking out for FitPros’ success. The intention of this article is to empower HR leaders with the information they will need to make an informed decision about the fate of their companies Wellness Program, when probed and/or confronted by those who are 'anti Wellness.'

To ensure I provided you with an accurate and prestigious argument I reached out to Kaleana Markley (Sequoia’s Wellbeing Director) and asked for her thoughts on trending articles like Leila Miller’s A Wellness Program at work may make you feel good, but won’t improve your Health. Kaleana responded thoroughly and without much deliberation. Please see her response below.

"Through my five years in corporate wellness consulting, I’ve seen many programs that unfortunately did not work – but it wasn’t necessarily because there wasn’t a need for a wellness program; it was not a success because the program missed the mark in terms of how it looked at what the employees needed, how they accessed the program, and how they were kept engaged. Take for example the description of the wellness program in the article (Leila Millers), 'The workers with access to the wellness program could take up to eight classes lasting four to eight weeks on topics like nutrition, physical activity and reducing stress.' There could be many, many reasons that utilization of these programs was very low and the impact wasn’t great. For example, were the classes during a busy time of year, in which taking time away from meetings and their desk was difficult? Were these workers who would have preferred private consultations, when the only option was an open forum classroom? Were the topics relevant? For example, did the nutrition classes cover modern dieting trends like paleo, gluten-free, or low-fat diets, or were they super broad nutrition education that felt outdated, or didn’t feel personal to each attendee? When you start to ask these questions, you realize how important factors like; knowing the right time of day to offer a class, taking into consideration the privacy concerns of employees, and customizing the programs to employee needs are."

So there you have it, Wellness Programs absolutely will not work if you do not commit adequate time, effort and resources to them. Additionally, are your Wellness Programs accurately designed to help you meet your goals?

What do I mean?

Take a moment and reflect on why your company implemented a Wellness Program to begin with. Was it to reduce healthcare costs or turnover? Was it to help your recruiting efforts? Boost camaraderie among your employees? Is it all of the above? Or please be honest with yourself... was it just because every company that is considered “a good employer” is “doing” wellness, so you figured you should? If that is the case, that is fine! Or if you are unsure what your companies reasoning was, but all your companies “Wellness responsibilities” are “your responsibility,” fear not, FitPros is here to help.

Ok now ask yourself, has your company implemented a Wellness Program that can effectively help you reach your above goal?

If you are unsure, no problem, that is where FitPros comes in.

FitPros can not only help you identify what your pain points are, but also help you create and implement a Wellness Program that addresses these needs. How? FitPros can arm you with the tools and resources that you will need to analyze and get to the bottom of the issues that are tainting your company culture and hindering your companies success. Then based off the results of your analysis, we can advise you on and implement a Wellness Program that addresses these needs. If you feel you are too close to the problem or conversely too far removed, to truly have a pulse on your employee demographic’s true needs, FitPros can use our outsider perspective to analyze and assess and then advise you on next steps.

For example, if one of the issues in your office is that employees all appear to be physically fit, but don’t seem to be mentally sound, FitPros asks that you allow us to design a Wellness Program for them (within your budget), that addresses this need. FitPros provides onsite 1:1 coaching sessions and/or mental health presentations that have improved employee’s all over the U.S.’s mental wellbeing exponentially. As you can imagine, this is rather sensitive information so I can not give you specifics, but I can tell you in my time with FitPros I have had the opportunity to witness employees confiding in their employer (during a mental health talk) about their despair. It is facilitated moments like this, that truly will better your company. How? If an employee feels invested in, or is given a stage to verbalize their concerns, more often than not they will. It is then your choice how you want to move forward. FitPros in the previously mentioned example, utilized the information collected at the open mental health discussion, to create a program that addressed a problem the employer did not even know existed.

The point I am trying to make is, no matter what your reasoning is for having a Wellness Program in your office, the only way you can expect results is if the program directly adheres to your employee demographic’s needs. To readdress the above LA Times article, FitPros has seen employers (far to many times) provide one Yoga Class or Health Talk a quarter, with the goal of lowering Health Care Costs or reducing turnover. Scientifically this is not possible. Like anything, to reap these benefits time and commitment needs to be committed to your employee’s physical health.

This is not to say, there is no purpose to a one-off Yoga class or Health talk, there absolutely is! Employees who experience a caring workplace are 44% more likely to work for a company with above average revenue growth. Additionally, we don’t have to tell you, today’s America is filled with transient individuals, 43% of millennials only plan to stay at a job for two years. You are absolutely correct to assume this is not enough time to change their physical fitness level and in turn reduce your healthcare costs. It is however, enough time to help your employees feel engaged and committed to their employer. FitPros can help you implement a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program into your office that will make your employees feel proud and honored to work for a company that puts the needs of society before their own. If your employees feel fulfilled in their office because they are connected to a higher purpose at work, they will be more inclined to stay and yes the efforts you put towards their physical health will finally start producing results and reducing healthcare costs.

We do not expect or even advise our clients to be 100% reliant on our onsite services. Wellness is not a 9-5 job, it is constant and for this reason FitPros supports and encourages our client’s to provide off site Wellness to their employees as well. FitPros partners with the best off site vendors in our industry, so we can easily and seamlessly connect you to them. However, if FitPros doesn’t partner with your chosen offsite vendor we are always open to it and we promise to fully collaborate with, and integrate any relevant benefit they are providing to your employees, into any Wellness Program we bring onsite!

For example, all FitPros’ instructors that teach at Square HQ, are well versed and fully trained on how to explain Whil to all their students. Whil is a meditation app that is part of their benefits package and is utilized by Square employees when they are offsite. FitPros does provide onsite meditation and yoga for Square employees, but due to our partnership with Whil we can arm you and your company with a Wellness resource they can use when they are OOO, aka FitPros’ services are not available. FitPros truly believes we are all in this together, and we want to support any vendor that is working towards the common goal of making your employees 'happier and healthier.'

Due to high expectations, planning, organizing, marketing and implementing Wellness Programs can be overwhelming. FitPros appreciates that you have a full time job filled with many responsibilities, and we are happy to help you off load your plate. However, to fight the fight against the "theory” ‘Wellness Programs don’t work’ we ask you to closely and carefully analyze and assess what your office truly needs in regards to wellness, and subsequently make realistic goals based off this need and your budget... or let us do so! According to the Benefits Lead at Square “Having FitPros as a resource to bounce ideas off of, and having direct access to their experts in the health/ fitness space, has saved my team from wasting time and resources researching on our own."

In conclusion, before making any rash decisions FitPros hopes you and your colleagues give Wellness and/or Fitpros' services a fair chance because, "Anything worth doing, is worth doing right." -Hunter S. Thompson

Give FitPros the opportunity to make your 'Wellness Program Work' by

emailing hello@fitpros.com or call (815) 348-7767


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