As the president of a corporate wellness company, Kinema Fitness, I have noticed a recent trend in the way companies are approaching employee-based wellness programs. Namely, companies are taking employee wellness more seriously now. They are truly trying to figure out the right solution to combat rising health issues and healthcare costs. Unfortunately, too many companies are trying to implement wellness programs with little to no experience or game plan for success. As a result, more programs fail than succeed.
The real problem? Corporate wellness cannot be treated as a band-aid, and you definitely won’t be able to find it in a fitness app. Engagement, motivation, support and strategy are the keys to a successful program. If employees are not involved in the solution, it’s difficult to succeed. Preventable wellness is a complete lifestyle and behavior change and change takes time and commitment.
If you’re ready to commit, here are five things to keep in mind as you design a wellness program for your company:
1. A higher level of awareness is essential to success. Americans are becoming more and more health conscious. But due to higher stress, longer work days and constant multitasking, it is more difficult to find the time to act on wellness goals. Creating an on-site wellness program is important because the majority of an employee’s time is spent at the workplace.
2. Many chronic diseases are preventable. According to the CDC, chronic diseases account for 75 percent of total healthcare costs. They are also the most preventable type of disease. Such illnesses include heart disease, stroke, cancer and obesity. The only way to prevent disease is with actionable steps to halt progression. When old habits are years in the making, you cannot expect behavior to change to happen overnight. However, when a person is able to commit mentally, emotionally and socially and on a conscience level, progress is possible. An employee wellness program needs to address this through consistent education and layers of accountability.
3. Be creative. Corporate wellness shouldn’t be boring. Creating unique and dynamic programs that consistently evolve over time ensure the best possibility of long term success. Human beings need to be challenge and stimulated in different ways and different means to create change. Challenge your program to stay on the latest trends; it will help to appoint a wellness lead that takes direct responsibility over the operations.
4. Combat rising healthcare costs. Healthcare costs are rising year after year. Employers, especially those at small companies, can simply not afford to take on this burden any longer. As a result, they are passing the costs on to their employees through higher deductibles. But healthier employees can actually help their own bottom line. Some employers are now lowering employee’s contributions with rebates if they do participate in a wellness program.
5. Corporate wellness is a complex, long-term play. The success of corporate wellness is driven by the unique strategy behind it. It involves a framework that outlines short and long-term goals for the employee and the employer. Corporate wellness needs support, leadership, commitment from the vendor, employer and employees. A successful program takes time and constantly evolves so it can be integrated into the fabric of the company’s culture. Corporate wellness is not just one solution. It is the culmination of many solutions that work together under one strategy. It involves layers of physical activity, education, communication, incentives, and a long term commitment.
When we actually think about what needs to take place, it seems fairly straightforward. However, the challenge lies in the execution. Behavior modification takes time and is different from person to person. It is possible, when reinforced consistently with different programs, multiple touch points, strong leadership, and an unwavering commitment. I challenge both the employers and the employees to think differently about wellness and what it means to them. If the end goal is healthier employees, then both parties need to be involved to share this common vision.
A version of this article first appeared in Forbes.com