WORKPLACE WELLNESS FOR SMALL BUSINESS – PART II

Workplace Wellness for Small Business – Part II                                      by Brian Hazelgren

PART II – In Part I of Workplace Wellness For Small Business, I covered some specific areas of getting started with a wellness program, the team that needs to be in place to effectively run the program,   and coming up with some big ideas to keep everyone motivated and engaged.

In this next section we will get into more detail of certain activities that employees like to be involved in, why people will want to join in the activities and then how to measure the effectiveness of your workplace wellness program.

Part II wraps up with a few additional ideas that you may want to consider, and I call them Helpful Extras. So lets gets started with phase two…

WELLNESS ACTIVITIES

You don’t really have a wellness program if you don’t have any activities. These are the events and challenges your employees actually take part of. It’s these wellness activities that your employees actually interact with, learn from and get inspired by.

Why?

Your wellness activities are the only part of your program that your employees see. Any strategizing, planning or goal-setting that occurs on the leadership team is brought to life by individual wellness activities. So yes, they’re absolutely essential.

Wellness activities also provide you with an opportunity to measure your program. They can give you an idea of how many people are using it, or what people think of the things you’re doing. Wellness activities can be a great measuring stick.

How?

Many companies use some standard wellness activities. Things like biometric screenings, health assessments and flu shots are fairly basic, but they do cost money.

There is a long list of free, health promotion activities you can start with before investing in that type of basic wellness package.

    • Hold a Workplace Challenge – or competition with awards and rewards (I designed a fun and competitive 6 Week Challenge that is pretty cool – ask us how we can design one for you company)
    • Go on a company-wide lunchtime walk—one mile will be plenty!
    • Host a picnic and encourage employees to bring a healthy lunch from home.
    • Do Friday morning yoga with a video on the big screen in the conference room.
    • Make a community garden at your workplace.
    • Encourage employees to stand while they work (buy them one of the desktops that are pulled up to allow your employees to stand while working. I have one and it’s great!)
    • Place motivational quotes in shared spaces throughout the office.
    • Have un-plugged afternoons to reduce employee stress.
    • Tell your employees to complete their work – at work whenever possible, and not take their work home with them.
    • Share “deskercises” (exercises that can be done at your desk) with your employees.

These types of activities are great starting points for your wellness program. Again, this isn’t a comprehensive list—so think outside the box. Try to spread out your wellness activities throughout the year. Get in a routine—maybe one activity each quarter? That way your employees know what to expect, and they won’t be left feeling bombarded or abandoned by your wellness program.

PARTICIPANTS

This one is simple to explain, but more difficult to get going. The fact is you people at work to support your wellness program. A wellness program can be a great tool for your small business because of all of the benefits that come from it. Your employees will feel better, look better, and be more productive when they are healthy. The company can drive healthcare expenses down like insurance costs, and workers-comp claims. Ultimately, though, it’s for them—your employees.

Why?

My assumption is that you’re in this for the wrong reasons, if you have to ask why you need people to participate. Your participants are your program. It’s as simple as that.

Everything about your wellness program should be directed at your participants – your employees. It’s all about helping them to make healthy choices, and learn how health fits into their lives. How can you make employees healthier if they don’t participate?

How?

The ‘how’ is a completely valid question. It can be really difficult to get your employees on board with your wellness program. That’s true in businesses of all sizes!

“Hard” doesn’t mean impossible. There are ways to get employees excited about wellness, and they start with a lot of the things I’ve already mentioned. Build your wellness program around your employees, and you will have the ultimate productivity booster working for your business. When employees are engaged in a fun, challenging, and even competitive program, that they will ultimately benefit from, then you have a winner on your hands!

Speak with your employees to learn what they want and need. It also means taking the information they give you and actually utilizing it. It might be easier to do a company walk than to organize a community garden.  A health short-term competition might just be the ticket to get many of your people motivated. If your employees want to learn to eat healthier, though, a walk might be a flop. Their opinions matter most—so try your best to work with them. If they are concerned about cancer, or diabetes, or obesity, you wont know that if you don’t ask them.

Open communication shouldn’t stop after you’ve planned your wellness activities, either. After you complete an event, do a quick survey and ask for their input. Make it so they don’t have to worry about backlash if they speak their mind. In other words, make sure their answers are anonymous. It’s also important to be consistent with your communication strategy about wellness in your company. Tell your employees what’s coming up, how to get involved and the benefits of taking part. Be proactive in getting people to come to your wellness activities. I really don’t believe you can over communicate the company message about staying healthy.

Don’t stop there! There is still more good to come from your wellness program. Achieving better health and wellness is a process. Be a resource for your employees in their journey of feeling and looking better. Your wellness program and activities are important, and you can really show your employees you care, by helping them get healthy on a personal level.

Smaller businesses actually have a distinct advantage when it comes to getting employees to participate. That’s because ‘workplace wellness’ is truly all about the participants. At a smaller business, it’s much easier to get to know each person. Peer pressure sometimes plays a role when colleagues say they will participate, people don’t want to be seen at a dissenter. You can bring your program back down to a personal level, rather than relying on mass communication, multiple levels of managers to buy in, and all the broad sweeping statements.

AN EVALUATION PLAN

As I mentioned earlier, Wellness Activities and Participants are key to making your wellness program successful. The next phase of your program – Evaluation – is also as important. Sorry to report that you can’t just send your program out, put it on auto-pilot, and hope for the best. A big part of wellness is attending to it, and making sure it’s actually working. What that means is that you’ll need to spend some time defining what success means for you and your business, and measuring whether or not you’ve met your goals.

You’ve probably heard that “a goal not written is only a wish” – the same holds true for a program implemented without measuring its effectiveness, is just energy spent with no benefit. I’ve often said that as business leaders, we need to measure everything, and your wellness program is definitely at the top of that list.

Why?

Health and Wellness should be a positive, empowering experience for your employees, but it can’t be only about feeling better and looking better. There needs to be some hard data driving what you’re doing. There needs to be a measuring tool to show you how affective your program is…and you must see a return on your investment.

If you are just starting your program, that type of data is lacking, but you will want keep track of the data on a weekly basis. You will need to set up the program in a way that makes collecting that data easy. Because it’s the data that will tell you whether or not you’re actually making a difference in your employees’ lives. I decided to partner with a major university to develop a software program to log the data employees would need, and leaders want to see, to provide score cards and show the effectiveness of the program. The charts, graphs, data points, and over 500,000 food items are baked into the model, and have become very valuable for participants and leaders to see at a glance how well they are doing.

For many people “data” can be an overwhelming word—so think of it more like information. Every wellness activity is telling you something about your program. Participation gives you an idea of how many people you’re reaching (and how many you’re missing). Feedback and suggestions give you an idea of where improvements can be made. Questions and office chatter give you an idea of the attitudes your employees have about wellness.

All of these are essential in figuring out whether or not it’s working and making a difference. Sometimes the information you get from your program tells you to keep doing what you’re doing. Other times, it says some adjustments are necessary.

How?

Simplify the process, and realize that you don’t need an entire analytics team to track the progress of your program. You just need some definition and a solid plan—a plan you’ll actually carry out! Follow these steps if you need a little more direction.

Step 1: Set goals and objectives. If you don’t have a goal, you won’t know whether or not you’ve been successful. Set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive  goals and objectives. Some say goals, other say objectives. They are different. A goal is a broad primary outcome. A strategy is the approach you take to achieve a goal. An objective is a measurable step you take to achieve a strategy. A tactic is a tool you use in pursuing an objective associated with a strategy. The more specific you make it, the less people will have to guess. The last thing want is people trying to guess what the objective of wellness is.

Step 2: Choose a tool. Based on your goal(s), some tools will make the most sense as a simple way to measure your success. A Software App catered to your needs, or even a survey or report of some kind to get feedback from your team. Don’t forget – I have an amazing software application that is specifically designed to set up, implement and measure any type of workplace wellness program or competition you can come up with. Go to my wellness site at www.platinumpartnerswellness.com to learn more about it.

Step 3: Follow a schedule. Evaluation isn’t just a one-time thing you do at the end of some timeframe, and then forgotten. It’s an ongoing process. Set points along the way to monitor your program so you can make adjustments as you need to. You should check your results often, at least every quarter (preferably monthly) so you can track your success as a team, and individually. If you have a 6 Week Challenge like the one I developed, then you will want to check and measure results at least once a week.

Step 4: Review, Assess and discuss. Each time you monitor your program—and especially at the end of your program’s cycle—take a look at the data you’ve gathered. What is it telling you? Sit down with your wellness team leaders to figure out exactly what that means for your program – and if you can see the difference the program has made for your employees, and your company.

Step 5: Take action. Collecting data and information isn’t “just for fun.” Make sure you actually utilize your evaluation plan so you can continue to make your program the best it can be!

Evaluation can quickly become a forgotten step because many people are wary of words like ‘data,’ ‘monitoring’ and ‘assessing.’ It doesn’t have to be intimidating. Your evaluation plan just needs to be thought out and useful for you and your program.

HELPFUL EXTRAS

While the bare essentials are all you really need to make a wellness program work, there are some fun extras that can make your program AWESOME! If you come across some extra resources, time or motivation after you’ve put the essentials in place, try some of these fun wellness perks.

Rewards and Perks

A great place to spend any extra resources is on rewards and perks. Almost any wellness activity can be developed into a challenge, or maybe evening a drawing. I was able to do it, and it has become highly successful – so don’t be afraid to invest in prizes people really want. We also include a package that each participant receives for the 6 Week Challenge, and it includes a very cool Challenge Coin as a memorable item from their participation in the Challenge – and a great reminder to stay fit!

Communication Tools

At a smaller business, communication styles usually take shape on their own. You can also invest in communication tools for your wellness program like an online portal, social media or chat groups – or my software program (shameless plug!).

Community Partnerships

Partner up with local community groups and businesses to bring great deals to your employees. Maybe seek out relationships with a local water company, gym, nutritionist, fitness coach, or yoga studio.

More Wellness Activities

Plan more wellness activities! Once you begin with a solid wellness program, the employees will want to continue with it. Especially when there are rewards involved. Brainstorm how you can make that work for wellness, and ask some of your past participants to help you come up with more ideas of making your program even better.

Ongoing Support

Continuous monitoring can be time-consuming (unless you have a good software program to track it), but it’s helpful if you have the resources. If you can, consider hiring a designated wellness coordinator—or even contracting with some type of analyst.

Employee wellness isn’t just reserved for corporate giants. Those larger companies are doing great things! But those things come with a great price. Corporate wellness can work for smaller businesses when they focus first on the essentials. Build up a solid foundation for your program by tailoring it to the needs of your workplace. If you have any questions—or want to learn more about how Ido small business wellness—let me know!

You can reach Brian anytime at brian@brianhazelgren.com

Copyright 2017 Brian Hazelgren

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