Part 2: Go Beyond the Vendor

April 16, 2014

Finding the right wellness vendor is crucial to implementing a successful wellness program, but a vendor can only do so much.  Successful wellness programs require building a culture of health and wellness, which means more than just finding the right vendor or partner – there are “other things” that employers must do.

This is the second post in a series that addresses the “other things” that are crucial to fostering a culture of health and wellness.

Part 2: Go Beyond the Vendor

To build a culture of health and wellness, employers need to think beyond their wellness vendor.  Even the most robust wellness vendor cannot completely address what we like to call a 360° culture of wellness.  A wellness vendor can provide a structure, tools, and strategies to promote wellness, but employers must go one step beyond their vendor’s services.  360° wellness requires thinking about the entire employee experience, from front-to-back, through a wellness lens.  360° wellness will be different in each company but there are a few common themes.  For employers who want to improve their 360° wellness culture, a good place to start is through examining workplace environments, events, and policies from a wellness perspective.

Environment
Office snacks are a fabulous employee perk and can provide employees with a helpful boost of energy during the afternoon slump.  Unhealthy snack options often dominate the break room cabinets.  Try limiting the chips, cookies, cheesy puffs, and other unhealthy options, and instead offer healthier snacks.  There are many services that will deliver fresh fruit and other healthly snacks directly to the office, making it really easily to offer healthy choices.

Color WallThe right workspace environment can help increase employee productivity and improve employee health and happiness.  Studies have shown that colored office walls influence human behavior.  Did you know that a blue wall can stimulate the mind?  A diverse workplace environment with different spaces optimized for social interaction, relaxation, collaboration, and concentration will keep employees mentally healthy and happy at work.  If budgets allow, offer employees the ability to customize their workspace.  Different types of chairs, keyboards, standing desks, or treadmill desks can help create a healthier workplace environment for employees.

Events
Ordering pizza is often the go-to meal choice for a working lunch or to celebrate a team accomplishment.  Pizza is inexpensive, efficient, and most people like it.  Unfortunately, pizza is not a great healthy food option.  Consider ordering healthier options like salads or wraps for work meetings or events.

Pizza-box-stacksWork happy hour is a great way to de-stress and connect with employees in a casual setting.   Don’t do away with happy hour events, but consider also adding a few health or activity focused events to the social calendar.  Employee team building can take place over smoothies, bowling, or laser tag (for the more adventurous).  Managers can work with their teams to plan group fitness activities like a lunchtime run.

Policies
Overworking employees can lead to stress and exhaustion and have a negative health impact.  Providing employees with ample vacation time or flexible work hours can help make a demanding job more manageable and keep employees happy and working efficiently.  A summer Friday half day can go a long way in rejuvenating employees after a demanding week.  It’s easy for employers to offer vacation days, but it’s more challenging for employers to establish a culture where employees feel comfortable taking advantage of a vacation policy.  Encouraging employees to use vacation time is important and senior leaders must set an example that other employees can follow.

A more flexible dress code may make it easier for some employees to participate in walking meetings, go for a mid-day walk, or attend an exercise class.  While flexible dress policies aren’t right for every company, it may help some companies promote a healthier work culture.

Companies often focus on wellness exclusively through a structured program provided by a wellness vendor, rather than considering wellness throughout the entire employee experience.  Each company is different and while there is not one checklist of all things an employer should consider, a great place to start is with workplace environment, events, and policies.  Embracing employee wellness means thinking beyond the scope of a wellness vendor.  We hope the suggestions above can help jumpstart your wellness brainstorm.  To truly develop a culture of health and wellness, employers need to think beyond their wellness vendor, they need to think 360° wellness.

Topics: Corporate Wellness


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