Corporate wellness programs are on the rise
The term “corporate wellness” has been around for a while now. It was Johnson & Johnson who started the idea through its Live for Life program in 1979. That was quite groundbreaking in the sense that employees got a novice way to access mindset adaption and behavior modification techniques.
The aim of corporate wellness programs is to enable the creation of a holistic, more organization-focused approach to foster the health of employees. It creates and nurtures a culture of health that goes beyond the conventional wellness programs to inculcate healthy lifestyle habits that increase their productivity, optimize their talent, and strengthen their engagement in the organization.
Corporate wellness programs have become a much-worshipped tradition in modern-day organizations across the globe. This is particularly true for companies that have 50 or more employees. As per reports released by RAND Corporation, US Department of Health and Humans Services, and US Department of Labor, more than 80% of American companies employing over 50 employees are engaged in corporate wellness programs.
There are quite a few perks of devoting some time, effort, and resources to corporate wellness programs. It has been seen that chronic stress and diseases are becoming common amongst working professionals owing to the unhealthy lifestyle they lead, balancing their personal and work lives. An emphasis on corporate wellness will allow employees to create healthy habits and stick to their wellness goals.
When individual employees are doing well, a plummet in medical expenses and absenteeism comes as an obvious benefit to organizations. Companies can boost their bottom line and get a competitive edge in the market by being counted in the list of “the best places to work.”
However, organizations should always remember that corporate wellness works better when it’s perceived not as a one-size-fits-all approach but as a highly personalized, employee-focused one. So, it’s true that corporate wellness aims at accomplishing the larger goals of the organization, but it has to address the core elements, the main driving force of the company—its human resources.
The foundation of any corporate wellness program is mindset change and behavioral adaptation. By leveraging different skills, education tools, motivating factors, and social support, employees can adapt and keep up with healthy habits. This is the reason why more and more individuals and organizations are adopting corporate wellness as their success mantra.
How to design a program
In order to design the ideal corporate wellness program, you need to account for the various activities available for your organization. This is based on the overall strength of your members. You can devise a well-rounded program that allows employees to receive wellness boosts individually, as well as in a group environment.
The ideal program perfectly balances the company's budget for such situations and maximizes it as much as possible. You don't have to spend millions in order to help alleviate stress levels and ensure the wellbeing of your members. Instead, you need to work smartly towards the problem by understanding the needs of your employees and the need of the hour.
The case for corporate wellness
You may wonder how much is all of this going to cost you? Well, you'd be surprised to know that the return on investment in such programs is extremely strong, especially if the execution is right.
If an employee feels dejected at their workplace and they don’t feel valued by their company, it is bound to take a toll on their overall productivity.
When an individual is underperforming, you have the option of either terminating them or helping them boost their performance. All the research in this sphere highlights the fact that it is in fact, much more cost-effective to retain existing employees instead of hiring a new one.
The recruitment and hiring process can be an expensive one, and you're still not sure about the performance of the new employee. Instead of this route, you can bank on existing employees. You already know their skill level and their areas of expertise. If you can create programs to maximize their best skills, this will end up yielding a higher ROI in the long run.
Reasons why it’s worth the investment
There are many reasons why creating corporate wellness programs are worth your time and effort. We list the most important ones in the section below:
- Makes fiscal sense: As previously mentioned, it’s far more cost effective to retain employees than to recruit new ones.
- Confidence levels: When you invest some time, money, and effort in improving the wellbeing of your employees, it goes a long way. They definitely notice the effort on behalf of the company, and this helps boost their confidence levels.
- Feeling valued: As the job market is always saturated, it isn't uncommon for employees to feel disposable because of the actions of their employers. If you create a wellness program, the employees truly feel valued and heard. They don't feel like they are easily replaceable, and this boosts their performance without a doubt.
Improved health behaviors
The type of programs you create can have a myriad set of positive effects on your employees. Hiking, for example, is an excellent example of a low-budget activity with incredible health benefits.
Employees get an opportunity to spend time outdoors in the natural world, and this immediately boosts their mood. Apart from the psychological benefits of hiking, it has massive potential for health benefits as well.
Taking a hike in the great outdoors is a great form of exercise. The fresh air and natural surroundings help reduce stress levels and oxidizes the body brilliantly.
Reduced elevated health risks
You can also help reduce the elevated health risks of spending too much time at the office or home. Selecting activities that massively deviate from these environments and focus on mental and physical wellbeing will go a long way in reducing health risks.
Yoga, for example, is a great activity that can drastically lower stress levels in a short period of time. It also helps improve employee health and reduce the risk of existing conditions.
Practicing yoga is often considered an indoor activity, but this does not have to be the case. You can pick an outdoor setting for this activity and this gives employees a break as well. By taking them away from the environment that causes stress, half the battle is already won. The other half is also taken care of by engaging in fruitful activities such as yoga.
Reduce healthcare costs
Companies are often responsible for providing insurance for their employees and this has a huge impact on the costs. The cost of offering healthcare, in the long run, can be substantial, but you can get ahead of this problem. By ensuring that your employees are happy, stress-free, and content in their work, you act in a preemptive manner. This not only works out well for the employees, but will also have a drastic effect on the long term health care costs.’
Wellness programs improve productivity
There is no doubt that monotony can be one of the biggest killers in the workplace. Wellness programs help to break this monotony by making employees engage in various activities that they enjoy.
Having various social gatherings and creating team building exercises not only allows the team to get closer, but also makes them happier as well.
Suppose your work life can be challenging and fun in the same breath, who wouldn't want to turn up to the office. This is the ecosystem you should aim to build. This helps reduce absenteeism in the long run.
Cris Hazzard’s take on corporate wellness
We got an opportunity to interview Cris Hazzard, who is a professional hiking guide and the founder of the website, hikingguy.com. The website is born out of his sheer passion and love for the outdoors—something that he always wanted to share with his friends and peers. In reality, he is one of the many people out there for whom life revolves around their digital screens and sedentary office hours. He is aware of the physical and psychological symptoms of such a lifestyle and started propagating what is popularly called “taking a break.”
A regimen to “live off the grid” is essential to maintaining a healthy, more fulfilling work-life balance. Cris believes that the onset of the Industrial Revolution has glued people to their screens and has conditioned everyone to respond to messages and emails. Besides work, people are busy scrolling through their phones, playing video games, or watching TV.
Our movement around what he calls “climate-controlled bubbles” deprives us of the pleasure of breathing fresh air or relishing the beauty of natural objects. This is the reason why he stresses upon corporate wellness as a means to correct the grave imbalances in employees’ lives owing to the pressures of a modern workplace.
'Our movement around what he calls “climate-controlled bubbles” deprives us of the pleasure of breathing fresh air or relishing the beauty of natural objects.'
Different corporate wellness elements for organizations to incorporate
In his interview, Cris Hazzard talks about his perspective on corporate wellness. He lays down a few methods by which employees can cope with their daily work stressors and lead a fulfilling personal life. Here are a few of them:
Being a die-hard hiker, hiking is the first recommendation of Cris. He boasts the activity as one of the best ways to balance work and life. Going for a hike—either alone or with family and friends—gives people a chance to experience something beyond the ordinary. All their five senses can experience something different for a break and recharge their batteries. He suggests everyone should go on a hike at least once a week by switching off their gadgets and rejuvenate themselves.
The 52 Hike Challenge or the Six-Pack of Peaks are some excellent options to experience the fun of hiking and making some friends along the way. Cris would prefer an organization that plans outdoor, fitness-focused trips for employees. Guided and personal hikes and executive retreats can greatly help employees forge a deeper connection with nature.w
People drain the battery of their minds and body and expect an automatic recharge. That is not possible, especially in today’s world where home-life has innumerable responsibilities. People have to work all day long, cook, care for their kids, respond to emails, pay their bills, and juggle many other things. They find absolutely no time to rest—something that drains them out in the end.
This is where people have to take a deliberate period of rest to calm themselves and regain their efficiency to fulfill their responsibilities. Taking a break from work and spending time with nature is truly a great way to feel better about life. It allows people to take a step back, reflect on their lives, and channelize their energy in the right direction.
Consider the right equipment. A good pair of hiking socks can have a great impact on your experiences. If you are looking for addition gear you can browse Cris Hazzard's site for some of the best equipment on the market.
Some of the things that you might want to consider are whether to wear hiking boots or trail shoes. Head over to this article to read about how they differ. You'll also need a good pair of multi-utility socks to go with the boots. Your feet are in contact with the ground and the shoe or boot at all times, so you'll want something that handles moisture.
Many employees are now working from home—a trend that has set in after the outbreak of the dreaded COVID-19 infection. The present-day workforce needs to adapt to this sudden transition in their professional life, but corporate wellness can definitely be a healthy coping mechanism for them. In fact, the pandemic has amplified the need for better corporate wellness programs to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of remote workers.
The establishment of health portals, telehealth sessions with qualified professionals, virtual wellness and socialization initiatives, and online webinars are a few ways to engage the remote workforce in corporate wellness programs. These programs can help organizations ensure that employees feel appreciated and give them a sense of belongingness.
Company layoffs have become another distressing trend as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Downsizing by means of layoffs certainly helps organizations cut down their operating costs, but it has an adverse effect on the mental health of employees. The loss of job and the resultant financial insecurity can take a toll on people’s well-being, often leading them to stress, anxiety, and depression.
As a part of corporate wellness, it’s time for organizations to avoid downsizing by adopting to more proactive and creative measures to tackle economic turmoil. They need to keep their costs under control and adopt ways to boost the productivity, engagement, and motivation levels of employees. This will help them contribute towards the organization’s bottom line while meeting their security needs.
The above are some measures given by Cris Hazzard to go ahead with corporate wellness in organizations. From maintaining physical and mental health to achieving bigger objectives, corporate wellness can truly make a difference in organizations and the lives of individual employees. Click here to learn more about Cris Hazzard (‘The Hiking Guy’).