We asked top HR VPs what advice they would give to someone who was starting a corporate wellness program. We heard some great ideas, as well as insight into how their programs began.
One theme was echoed loud and clear by everyone: whatever program you build, it’s got to be authentic to your company’s culture. Check out the video interviews below!
Expert Advice: Starting a Corporate Wellness Program
Note: Property Solutions is now Entrata
Advice from Entrata: Give Them What They Already Love
Entrata began trying different activities for their wellness program, based on what they already knew their employees might like. From there, they narrowed it down to a small selection of activities and initiatives that are now running consistently.
The key tip that Entrata recommends is to start with things employees already love – activities, gym passes, massages, etc. After starting with things that employees naturally enjoy, it becomes easier to develop and plan to eventually build up a few different wellness initiatives.
Entrata's wellness committee is comprised of the HR team as well as volunteers from different company departments. The team isn’t appointed, rather it’s made up of company volunteers who find workplace wellness an important project. The wellness committee coordinates all new wellness activities and initiatives.
Advice from Clearlink: Make it Authentic
Echoing Entrata's point, Clearlink suggests to start small and build your wellness program into the existing company culture.
It should be obvious to your employees that the program was built with them in mind – and that it’s not an accidental byproduct of something on the side.
Advice from Varian Medical Systems: Start Small to Build Lasting Growth
In 1996, Varian Medical Systems didn’t have a wellness program. So they started small – with a few pieces of donated exercise equipment and some after-work exercise classes. After seeing employee interest grow, there was buy-in from the management level. Today, there is a complete fitness center that is funded by the regular health, safety, and wellness budget.
Their New York group now has 50 people, and started with donated exercise equipment they set up in an unused office. Now their fitness center includes an onsite Weight Watchers program and a lunchtime walking program.
Varian Medical Systems suggests that a wellness program can be started with only a few interested people. Whether it’s a small group walking together at lunch time, or a few employees committed to only taking the stairs. Get the word out with flyers and emails to try to gain more participants.
Advice from Usana Health Sciences: Get Buy-In
Usana Health Science’s main suggestion is two-fold:
Get leadership buy-in to keep a program sustained, and make sure you’re doing activities that employees actually want. <-- TWEET THIS
Advice from Nelson Laboratories: Keep ROI in Mind
Your corporate culture is the key to keeping your program vital, says Nelson Laboratories. Understanding your employee population will help you create incentives that stick.
Also, be sure to look into your company’s return on investment tolerances. Because wellness programs can take a few years to make an impact on your ROI, make sure the management level won’t be itching to cut the program if it doesn’t see returns immediately.