How To Make Wellness Work For Your Business

Poor health costs the U.S. workforce more than $576 billion each year. Whether you own a small business or a large enterprise, that number is staggering. So, what can employers do right now to help reduce overhead and improve staff wellness? The answer is simple: Offer a wellness program that works and fits for everyone on your team. Regardless of size, there are affordable options for companies to create happier, more engaged and healthier employees.

The problem with current wellness programs is they typically define wellness as only “the absence of sickness and disease” and offer short-term remedies to address the areas defined as employee-related problems, which are usually limited in number. These types of programs rarely, if ever, engage team members in dialogue about the health and wellness goals that are important to them.

Further, health and wellness can be a large contributor to employee satisfaction, retention, recruitment, and employer profitability. A better understanding of wellness issues, as well as taking a few simple steps, can transform a company from one with an ineffective wellness program to one that is successful and adapted as part of the company’s culture.

Producing Sustainable Health And Wellness For Your Employees –  Three Simple Steps

Creating A Culture Of Wellness

Outsourcing core functions of an organization without weakening its strengths is usually impossible. If you wouldn’t outsource your accounting department, why would you try this with the health of your organization?

When people are equipped with strategies that work, they have the chance to turn casual conversations, formal one-on-one meetings, and general exchanges into opportunities to model, inspire, and support wellness for others.

Having consultants, such as fitness experts and nutritional counselors, available for employees is a great thing, but the most successful organizations have the internal capacity for self-sustaining action. Success is most likely to occur when organizations become learning communities with strong internal cultures of wellness.

Think Holistically

Effective workplace wellness programs address both physical and mental needs of the individual, which directly affect the company. For example, obesity, use of tobacco and chronic disease are problems that directly affect your bottom line. However, by offering fixes to these issues only—you might not succeed in getting all employees onboard.

Other issues may be more pressing for your staff—issues that contribute to unhealthy lifestyles and risky behaviors. What if your employee is overweight and started to smoke, but these unhealthy changes are related to the stress of caring for an ailing loved one? In that case, you may want to help your employee with the stress-related issues first, not simply suggest an exercise program and ways to stop smoking.

When employees make a positive change in one area of their life, they gain the confidence and drive to pursue changes in other areas as well. Taking a holistic approach to help staff address the unique issues that affect them individually will benefit you more than just making suggestions to follow the latest fitness trend.

Don’t Wait

Getting as many people involved in company wellness programs across your entire organization is crucial for success, and companies shouldn’t stop once you have gotten employees on board. Put the power and responsibility for change in the hands of staff—from the field and the back office to the board room—and recognize both individual and collective efforts.

Celebrate Successes, Even Small Ones

Celebration feels good and it’s a feeling everyone wants to experience again and again. The most important thing is to avoid trying to find a “quick fix” or telling an outsider to make your organization’s employees healthy. It’s about fostering a shift in identity and culture so that health and wellness become inevitable, and every employee’s well-being is valued by your organization.


6 Things Your Fitness App Can’t Do

If you’re like most Americans, you may be wondering if this is the year you’ll be better at getting healthy.

Or, you may be one of the millions of people facing another New Year frustrated by your attempts to get fit.

Did you renew your commitment to health and fitness last year – and even work hard to meet your new goals – only to find yourself in the same place as last January 1?

Jumping on the newest apps like Fitbit or Strava will help you track your activity and can make you more aware of the exercise that you do, but for many, going digital has not turned out to be the secret sauce to success.

Even apps that are smart enough to build in positive reinforcement and feedback might not entirely solve the problems that face us as we try to get fit.

Why do even well-intentioned attempts with help from the best available technologies fail?

Robert J. Szczerba has hit on an answer: “Fitness technologies work best for people who are already motivated and have a disciplined fitness routine. For most people, particularly those who have not yet discovered how to motivate themselves, fitness tech devices are the electronic equivalent of the millions of unused treadmills and elliptical trainers cluttering many American basements.”

When it comes to transforming your health, you cannot put the cart before the horse, now can you outsource certain aspects of health and fitness to an app or a fitness guru.

Well-known fitness blogger and consultant Vik Khanna warns, “Relying upon fitness tech without a plan and solid motivational foundation is like aspiring to build a secure retirement but worrying about which mutual fund to choose, even though you have neither a budget nor savings.”

Khanna offers a helpful list of 6 tasks to accomplish first before embracing technology.

  1. Prioritize your goals – Fitness apps cannot understand your psychology or the problems you confront on a day-to-day basis. Before committing to a new routine, set reasonable goals and plan around what is possible in your busy weeks and weekends. It is not a bad idea to consult with people who care about you and understand what you can handle.
  2. Develop a plan – Once you know what you want to accomplish and the barriers and difficulties facing you, formulate a plan. Figure out a schedule and write it out. An app can generate a schedule for you, but it cannot see which goals are attainable in the context of your life.
  3. Build determination – Wanting to change is often different than having the determination required to enact change. Learning to break your goals down into achievable parts and work on them until you build your capacity for major change can make a huge difference in if you succeed or fail.
  4. Recognize your own efforts – Experts in the science of change have said that celebrating your small and large victories can be really important to getting your brain on board for creating new and healthier habits.
  5. Practice positive self-talk – If you are the kind of person who always sees the glass as half-empty, start working on telling yourself your glass is half-full. It is very hard to achieve anything with a head full of doubt even if an app is telling you what a great job you are doing.
  6. Make course corrections – Often when we hit a roadblock we throw out the whole plan. When your app is telling you to do something that you find impossible – try something else and don’t give up.

Fitness apps and resolutions can help you achieve your fitness goals – but they are not where you should start. If you really want to make your resolutions count in 2015 start planning for success by following these 6 simple steps!

About the Author: Dr. Deborah Teplow is CEO and co-founder of the Institute for Wellness Education. She developed the competencies and training curriculum that became the basis for the U.S. Department of Labor’s approvals in 2012 of wellness coaching as a new U.S. occupation and a Registered Apprenticeship Program.

photo credit: G0361117 via photopin (license)