For years successful corporate wellness programs have bought real results to organisations such as reducing costs relating to illness and injuries, improving productivity levels, creating a positive workplace culture and motivating employees towards adopting a healthier lifestyle.

However, designing an effective corporate wellness strategy thats efficient and holistic may be a daunting affair, particularly when HR leaders are required to manage multiple aspects of the program. To guide you along this process, we present 5 key elements you’ll need to consider in designing an effective corporate wellness strategy:

1. Understand your company’s business focus

A critical step towards designing an effective and successful corporate wellness strategy is to understand your organisation’s business focus. Firstly, this ensures that the strategy and program is aligned with, and supports the goals of the company. Secondly, it ascertains that the strategy is explained in the language and terminologies of key decision makers of the organisation, allowing CEOs and CFOs to better understand its elements. This is particularly helpful as key decision-makers consider issues from a broad, company-wide perspective, taking into account factors such as whether the corporate wellness strategies implemented will help the organisation to achieve greater efficiencies, drive innovation and reduce costs.

Key questions that HR leaders need to ask are: What are critical goals of the company at this point in time? Is the company prioritising growth and innovation, or is there a greater focus placed on operational efficiency?

It is also helpful to review corporate documents, such as annual reports, investor presentations, press release articles and Securities and Exchange Commission filings, as such documents explain the goals and operations of the company in a language and terms that are familiar to key decision makers. Listen carefully to the CEO or CFO when they present their opinions on the goals and direction of the organisation, and do not hesitate to reach out to them for further clarification.

2. Understand your employees

Apart from understanding the business goals of your organisation, it is also essential to have a good understanding of the company’s employees. This is an area usually managed by HR leaders, so you are likely to have accurate insights and data of your organisation’s workforce.

Important questions to raise on this subject include: Who are our employees? What sort of talent do we aim to recruit? Why do people leave our company? In answering these questions, you will develop a clearer idea of the profile of current employees and potential talent that your organisation is keen on attracting and retaining. Such insights are crucial in designing corporate wellness strategies that will appeal to different segments within your company’s workforce, as each population have unique lifestyle habits, preferences, motivations and health risks.

3. What’s your ROI language?

Key decision makers within an organisation — the CEO and CFO — are responsible for delivering profit to their shareholders. To gain their support and understanding, HR leaders need to show a connection between the profits of the company and the corporate wellness strategy implemented.

Two concepts that you should clarify are the business metrics and HR metrics of the organisation. The former refers to business goals of the company, such as the monthly sales target and number of product launches per quarter, while examples of the latter include high employee engagement, high productivity levels or low numbers of leaves of absences.

You will also need to identify specific HR metrics that contribute to the business metric of your company. In doing so, you will be able to quantify the results of your corporate wellness strategy, and to present it in a way that can be easily understood by key decision makers of your company.

4. Communication: Clarity for effectiveness

Designing a holistic corporate wellness strategy is half the battle won; for successful implementation, the program has to be communicated clearly and effectively to all employees.

An essential step for HR leaders is to identify specific outcomes that they want from implementing the corporate wellness strategy. Do you want to arouse a greater level of interest and engagement from employees regarding their emotional wellness? Are you looking to increase sign-ups for a one-off activity, or do you aim to drive employee participation in a long-term fitness program? Chances are that in the long run, all of these form part of the goals of your corporate wellness strategy, but identifying your immediate goals enables you to decide on which communication strategies you should incorporate next.

HR leaders should also keep in mind three critical elements of effective communication. Firstly, the message should be simple and concise — employees should know how and when to be involved, and the benefits of being engaged with the corporate wellness program.

Secondly, HR leaders need to keep in mind to select appropriate channels of communications, as the preferences of employees in each organisation or department are unique, and different employee segments may vary in their responsiveness to different communication mediums.

Lastly, consider the timing and frequency of communication. How often should you reach out to the employees? Communication should be an ongoing process; employees should be reminded of corporate wellness activities that are in place, as well as the benefits they can reap all year round. In addition, they should be notified on how they can participate when commencement date of the activities are nearing.

5. Incentives: A tool for boosting employee participation

Incentives can serve as a highly effective tool in boosting the level of employee participation, particularly for individuals who are not intrinsically motivated to lead healthy or physically active lifestyles. A study conducted by MED-STAT, a health information organisation in Ann Arbor, indicated a 250 percent increase in participation when non-cash incentives were introduced.

Incentives may be monetary or nonmonetary, ranging from cash bonuses and discounts from recognised retailers, to additional time off from work or providing travel rewards. Companies may also add a creative spin to incentives offered in order to drive greater participation; organising cooking classes by local celebrity chefs, conducting a health education seminar by an Olympic runner and introducing a gift card program are innovative strategies implemented by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals as part of the organisation’s corporate wellness program.

    Globetrekker Challenge is a corporate health technology company for employee health engagement and HR data analytics. By integrating multiple features across wellness, technology and social, Globetrekker Challenge creates robust outcomes to improve employee retention, performance and culture.


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