corporate wellness

By Simon Davies

According to research from recruitment company Glassdoor, millennials are less likely to be wooed by traditional HR benefits and bonuses than older generations, and more interested in a company’s corporate wellness culture.

Increasingly, companies around the world, from startups to corporate giants, are recognising the importance of supporting employee wellness in their workforce, with many implementing programs that promote a positive lifestyle. Such programs can boost productivity and create a more positive working environment. Across all generations, wellness perks can also improve rates of employee retention.

Corporate wellness is about more than just working out

Corporate wellness is commonly assumed to mean providing employees with gym access and health insurance policies, and leaving it at that. In reality, there’s little return on investment for such token measures. Instead, a complete corporate wellness solution is key to promoting the health and wellbeing of employees.

Jon Denoris is personal trainer and fitness coach to the likes of former London Mayor Boris Johnson and US reality star Whitney Port. Despite operating a successful fitness studio in London, he launched the Pop-up Gym revolution, a program which focuses on innovative wellness programs for the workplace beyond gym access.

He claims that corporate wellness solutions need to involve a gym or expensive fitness equipment: “Staying fit is not always about going to the gym, losing weight or having the perfect body it can offer you so much more. It is about having the energy and drive to reach your true potential as a human being.”

The benefits of corporate wellness programs aren’t just about working out, but rather spending more time working on behavioural change and helping put in place complete lifestyle solutions. This includes working to reduce stress levels, improve morale and enhance general productivity.

Why is corporate wellness important?

Millennials are among the generation of workers who seek a favourable corporate culture over perks. What this means is that younger job seekers are more attracted to a company that respects them as individuals, and invests in their personal development and wellbeing.

Given the high rate of job-hopping by millennials these days, a good corporate wellness programme might just be the key to securing top talent for your business, and keeping hold of that talent once you do.

But it’s not just about making your business more attractive to potential employees. Corporate wellness is about making an investment in them too.

These days, as ever more of an employee’s time is spent at the workplace, corporate wellness is key to supporting their physical and emotional health. Given that an estimate 75% of all chronic illnesses are preventable, the need to implement an effective corporate wellness programme is hugely important.

Encouraging employees to participate in stress relieving practices, promoting healthy eating and facilitating and affording time to exercise are all easy ways to go about creating a wellness culture in your business.

What are the challenges faced by employers when it comes to corporate wellness?

Despite the need for wellness programmes, there remains a big disconnect between their perceived importance and rates of participation.

While 70% of employees who responded to a survey conducted by wellness solutions provider GuideSpark said they considered wellness to be valuable, only 9% reported taking full advantage of wellness programmes.

They cited among the top reasons for their lack of participation the fact that they were “too busy with their jobs” or that programmes did not suit their lifestyle. More than half responded that they had little to no understanding of what corporate wellness means.

It’s therefore vital employers looking to reap the rewards of a wellness programme see to it that they enable active participation from employees.

Corporate wellness solutions for your business

It can be very simple to educate and put into effect simple practices for employees’ well being. Among the top three ways to better facilitate participation in any corporate wellness program are tailoring programmes to suit employees lifestyles, allowing flexibility and time to participate in programmes and incentivising participation with contests and rewards.

This guide to designing a corporate wellness plan that actually works from Inc. is a great place to start. It offers advice on how to build a culture of health, fitness and nutrition in your workplace.

Making a corporate wellness programme accessible to all employees can be achieved by inviting their input in the development process, and requesting their feedback on what solutions they found to be effective or not. If you’re encouraging your employees to take part in mindfulness or meditative practices during the workday for example, you may struggle to get employees to participate if their workload doesn’t permit them to take time away from their desk.

A successful health promotion program starts with a commitment from company leaders, so remember to practice what your preach. Its continued success depends on ongoing support at all levels of the organisation, meaning it’s vital to communicate what the programme comprises, what the benefits are, and how to get involved.

Simon Davies is a freelance journalist interested in marketing, tech and small business. Follow him at @SimonTheoDavies.