Corporate wellness is a given. It’s such a given, in fact, that the term has become somewhat of a cliché.
Everyone’s got a corporate wellness plan. Board members have ideas, employees have ideas. Facebook has ideas. Pinterest has ideas. Pretty soon your crowd sourcing ideas, second guessing your own ideas, and the list goes on.
If you’re considering corporate wellness, consider this: while better health is always a good idea, that doesn’t mean that the road to it is paved with right answers. It’s possible to make a mistake, and here are some of my favorite corporate wellness mistakes to avoid.
6 Ways to Screw Up Corporate Wellness
1. Random Acts of Wellness
While corporate wellness doesn’t have to be expensive, it’s definitely not cheap. And one of the biggest mistakes any company can make when implementing a wellness plan is to try and stretch a meager budget over a large program. The result? Something we like to call "random acts of wellness".
Random acts of wellness are always good intentioned. Suddenly your employees walk in and their candy bar rations have been replaced by fruits and vegetables. But the next day the healthier food is gone. For one week every six months the HR department rewards its employees for walking to work.
The problem with random acts of wellness is that they don’t move the needle. So instead of creating a healthier employees, companies that adopt this strategy only end up making the situation worse. Employees don’t take the wellness program seriously and when budgets increase and it’s time to institute a complete program, nobody ends up participating.
If you’re dealing with a small budget, find one area of employee health where you can make a real difference. Build a micro program around walking to work, for example. You’ll see much better results. Or check out my post on How to Sell Corporate Wellness to Your CEO to help grow that budget.
2. The Intranet Babysitter
If you were to poll your friends who’ve participated in a corporate wellness program, you might find a surprising (or maybe not so surprising in this case) lack of knowledge about the program.
That’s because many companies use the corporate intranet to park the wellness plan. Then they just leave it there for employees to peruse at their convenience. But what usually ends up happening is that the intranet become a place where corporate wellness programs go to die.
This is a bad idea. Please don’t make this corporate wellness mistake.
And it’s not because intranets are a bad idea or that your intranet doesn’t work. Intranets are great, and they’re actually a fantastic place—even to host your wellness program. If you’re buying into a great online resource like a health and wellness program, you need to make sure that it doesn’t fly under the radar.
3. Let Them Figure It Out
Better health is one third physical, two thirds mental. Your employees need all the motivation and support they can get. A big mistake most companies make is letting employees come to them to figure out the corporate wellness program.
This even goes back to the basics: when does my gym membership reimbursement kick in? Where can I find my login information?—these are questions your employees shouldn’t have to ask. If you send out the vibe that you’re ambivalent about health, there’s no way your company is going to get behind a health initiative.
4. Only Target the “Worried”
Sometimes it feels natural to target the worried. Gearing your messaging and programs to people who could gain the most traction quickly from your program and focusing on the “unhealthy” is easy. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
People worried about their health are going to be automatically interested in your corporate wellness program. But in order to have true success, you must target everyone. That includes the “unworried” as well. Give everyone a good reason to participate and you’ll get the biggest return on your investment.
5. Make Things Harder Than They Need To Be
I recently had a job where a massage therapist visited two days a week. You could get a free massage on Tuesday and Thursday. All I had to do was sign up. Problem was, nobody knew where the sign up sheet was—or even if there was a sign up sheet. Sadly, I never got a massage.
It turns out that the “sign up sheet” was a first-come-first-served spreadsheet buried on the intranet. The point here is to stop making your corporate wellness program harder than it needs to be. Don’t create incredibly complicated competitions. Place signs where they’re visible. And hold events at reasonable hours.
6. Before and After Pictures
What might seem like a perfectly good idea to do from the privacy of your own home and post on your personal not-so-private social networks, might not be a good idea when it comes to corporate wellness plans. We’re talking abut the infamous before/after shots of dieting/exercise programs. And again, we’re not opposed to them in general—just making your employees post them. Even “encouraging” your employees to post their progress photos is a bad idea.
Beyond the obvious reasons, an intranet (and yes, sometimes even hallways) posted of your employees in their skivvies does more to discourage wellness initiatives than it does to promote them. It’s awkward, for sure, but the longer-lasting ramifications of that awkwardness means that the majority of your office will be more likely to tune out the other, less awkward, portions of your wellness program.
Instead, try encouraging your employees in more anonymous, less socially stigmatizing ways. To encourage weight loss, for example, try dividing different departments into teams and then having those teams post their collective weight loss totals. The same idea works if you’re tracking steps, miles, or days without sugar.
The rule of thumb here should be to create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable about the wellness program—and getting healthier in general.