Corporate Wellness Programs: What Leaders Need to Know, A CEO's Perspective
Corporate wellness programs expert Laura Putnam, author of Workplace Wellness that Works and CEO of Motion Infusion, shares insights into the future of wellness-related employee benefits.
The Future of Corporate Wellness Employee Benefits
Corporate wellness programs are changing fast – shifting from bare-bones health assessments, health screenings, and the sharing of health facts, to robust turnkey worksite wellness initiatives. So what’s next? Sharing her insights is Laura Putnam, worksite wellness expert, author of Workplace Wellness That Works and CEO of Motion Infusion. She tells us what trends to watch for and what leaders need to know now.
Laura explains the top priorities of most wellness programs are:
- Healthcare cost savings and reducing employee benefits spending
- Increasing employee productivity
- Employee appreciation – being more marketable to employees
And the biggest barrier to successful corporate wellness programs: lack of leadership involvement.
Unfortunately, says Laura, money is the momentum behind most corporate wellness programs. It’s also a major selling point for the C-suite. However, throwing together a bare-bones wellness program usually doesn’t do the trick. Laura explains, “If a company has a standalone wellness program (vs. being part of the culture), then wellness is probably not a priority.”
So what’s missing?
Laura says that “many senior leaders aren't really serious [about corporate wellness]. Many leaders feel they need to ‘do wellness' but then don't participate. There are exceptions but generally speaking, not enough leaders truly care if their employees are healthy and well.”
Nonetheless, there are positive examples of leaders who do. “Scott McGohan, for example, CEO of McGohan Brabender, offers a corporate environment where employees are truly engaged. During an on-site tour, he showed me a closet of games for kids as he believes that the workplace should be a family place. He genuinely cares about his people and as a result, his people are engaged. Above all, he believes in being authentic, and to those leaders who are all talk, Scott offered: ‘Don’t pretend like you care when your behavior shows you don’t.’“ As exemplified by leaders like Scott, the best way to see benefits from wellness is to lead by example.
Increasing Employee Productivity
Another top motivator for employee wellness is increased productivity. Huge barriers to organizational productivity are absenteeism and mental illness – to the tune of $84 billion per year, according to a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey. Laura thinks more leaders should be taking these health concerns seriously – especially mental health. “We have a serious mental health crisis that is impacting everyone (like never before). It’s real and it’s happening on every level. This growing trend is forcing leaders to focus more on mental health.
The good news is that some organizations are starting to take this trend seriously. For example, “at American Express, every fourth chair in their office is a different color – which reflects that one out our every 4 people is affected by mental illness. Leaders need to take actions like these to reduce the stigma. Companies will start losing key people because of mental health issues if they don’t start doing something about it.”
One way employers can positively impact mental health is through employee appreciation. Laura recognizes its importance in boosting company culture, creating effective wellness programs, and becoming and staying competitive organizations where the best people want to work. More leaders are recognizing this, too. She says, “there are two positive trends I am seeing":
- Growing awareness about the importance of company culture and its impact on employee well-being. “We are arguably more creatures of culture than we are creatures of habit.” Therefore, if the goal is to truly impact behaviors, we would be wise to focus more on the culture as opposed to habit formation. People are now asking, “Am I healthier because of my work? Or less? I’m encouraged that more leaders are focusing on optimizing the whole environment vs. just offering standalone wellness programs.”
- Growing understanding that wellness is more than just physical. It’s more than quitting smoking, losing weight, or maintaining a healthy blood pressure. It’s also about showing employee appreciation, helping people live a better life through improved social wellbeing, career wellbeing, and community wellbeing. It’s about helping them be their best selves.”
Leadership support and involvement in wellness is an essential component to corporate culture and overall employee engagement. Contact Laura Putnam or CoreHealth for further ideas on wellness strategy, programs or technology.
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About CoreHealth Technologies
CoreHealth Technologies Inc. is the leading corporate wellness platform trusted by more than 1000 organizations, ranging from medium-sized businesses to Fortune 500 enterprises. At CoreHealth, we believe that developing the best employee wellness programs is all about giving wellness companies the right code, design and access to the latest innovations. With the most customization, integrations and reliability of any software in its class, CoreHealth’s powerful platform lets users focus on growing great companies. For more information, contact CoreHealth or explore the CoreHealth website.
About The Author
Laura Neuffer, MSc has 10+ years of experience in worksite wellness implementation, research, and content design.