By BRIAN FIELKOW
Investing in your employee’s health and wellness means that you’re investing in your company’s culture. I’ll admit, when it comes to my company, creating a corporate culture has been at the forefront of my organisation, but I was behind the curve on corporate wellness issues. But I am now changing that.
Although I did not focus aggressively on wellness in the past, it wasn’t because I failed to care about my employees. The opposite was true. I cared deeply.
My thinking was (and still is) that employees are adults. Each person makes choices about what to eat and drink, and whether to exercise.
A healthy culture, minus the gimmicks
As a business leader, I don’t believe it is my role to judge or lecture my employees about how they should live their lives. I am not an expert in these areas, and I follow the rule of not throwing stones from a glass house.
Yet, I could no longer stand by and watch people make terrible choices. I could not simultaneously witness absenteeism and skyrocketing health care premiums.
And it’s difficult to sit back and observe people whom I care about not take an active interest in their own health.
Nonetheless, it’s easier to talk about corporate wellness than it is to operationalise it. Pasting posters on a wall, sending a payroll memo or having a one-time meeting is easy, but the programme won’t gain any traction.
Having a “biggest-loser” competition could be fun, but it is more of an event than a long-term plan to truly embed wellness in a company’s culture.
So, my dilemma became how to weave wellness principles into the company’s culture without gimmicks and judgment of others.
The following is my action plan to operationalise wellness:
- Add money to the mix
My employees’ share of health insurance cost now contains a discount for agreeing to make defined lifestyle choices.
Instead of casting judgment about my employees’ decisions, I have simply raised the stakes so that employees have a greater economic incentive to be healthier.
- Healthy and delicious
When my company has lunch meetings, I now insist on healthy options. Fast and greasy is no longer an option. That doesn’t mean that the company has eliminated all less-than-healthy treats.
It means that the organisation is offering choices to employees. By mid-year, I’m planning to revamp the company’s vending options so that the majority of the choices are comparatively healthy.
- Get moving
My company is also building a new office with a workout area. If your office can’t accommodate a workout area, consider paying for employees’ gym memberships.
You can’t necessarily lead your employees to a workout, but you can provide them support and tools. Encourage people to work out together: There’s nothing like letting the team know that everyone is in this together.
- Sit comfortably
Invest in ergonomics. Get rid of poorly-made chairs. Put as much thought into an ergonomically efficient office as you do into buying the next major piece of equipment for your facility.
Most office employees are in sedentary jobs for the better part of a workday. Investing in ergonomics is the same as investing in employees’ health, and that’s the ultimate respect that you can offer.
- Find your wellness opinion leaders
Your company likely has employees who are knowledgeable and committed to their own wellness. Harness their power. Allow them to become an in-house resource for other employees.
Whether the topic is diet, exercise or yoga and balance, these employees can serve as an internal and non-threatening resource for other team members.
- Promote balance
We live in an era where we are constantly on-call. We are never more than a text message or an email away from the office.
Show your employees that you recognise this fact and encourage them to find time to truly disconnect. Also, consider the fact that traditional vacation benefits may no longer fit our modern lifestyles.
We are abandoning defined vacation days per year and replacing it with a more progressive “flexible time off” policy.
Look for insurance premium discounts if you actively support a wellness programme. Above all, create an environment that lets people measure success against their own personal goals and not some manufactured standard.
You, as a business leader, can implement simple changes to promote wellness. Stay clear of judging others and respect the decisions that each person makes. As you weave wellness into your organisation, have a plan to operationalise your objectives.
What is your action plan to weave wellness into your company’s culture?
Brian is also owner and president of a logistics company in Houston. Drop us a line or two in the comment box below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Be a Leader articles, click here.
Adapted for Leaderonomics.com.
Corporate culture and management advisor Brian is the author of “Driving to Perfection: Achieving Business Excellence by Creating a Vibrant Culture”, a book based on his 25 years of executive leadership experience.