47 tips for corporate wellbeing programme success

You can read the original version of this article we wrote for HR Zone here

Most corporate wellbeing programmes have a simple objective. To provide staff with knowledge and motivation to make informed lifestyle choices that result in energy, enthusiasm and engagement in all areas of work and life.

A simple objective yes, but sometimes easier said than done, so to help you fast-track the success of wellbeing in your business, here are some tried and tested tips.

1. Have a strategy: No serious business project will succeed completely without a clear strategy.  Your wellbeing programme is no different.  Spend time planning what you want to achieve with the programme, why you want these results, who you are targeting with specific initiatives and how you will monitoring results?

2. Be creative: Corporate wellbeing started with health insurance and gym memberships and now includes dance sessions, resilience workshops, martial arts classes, massages, health assessments and podiatry to name but a few.  For your programme to be popular and be a success, always keep an open mind about what your staff might find most interesting and most beneficial.

3. Build a portfolio of initiatives: Not every element of a wellbeing programme will ignite the passion of every individual in every business.  The most effective wellbeing programmes are made up of a wide range of targeted initiatives with regular review of the portfolio to ensure that all initiatives are relevant and value for money.

4. Consistency is key: Your wellbeing vision for the business needs to be understood throughout the organisation and wellbeing should be a consistent and ongoing feature of company culture.  This is why you need a strategy.  The strategy will dictate the content, tone and frequency of initiatives and communications.  Regular initiatives that are well communicated will encourage maximum numbers of staff to get involved.

5. Tackle popular topics: Most people have an interest in food and drink and how our consumption of various items affects our mood and performance.  A company-wide healthy eating plan combined with some key messages targeted at specific audiences within your business will help staff make sense of the mass of nutrition information out there, and provide them with healthy eating ideas and strategies that they feel are relevant to them, their family and their professional commitments.

6. Get everyone moving: Some people love exercise, some people hate it, and a large proportion of the working population have simply forgotten how good it can feel to get active.  Get staff involved in some shared activities or challenges and remind them that fitness can be fun.

7. Make sure everyone has access to the resources they need, when they need them: Some people procrastinate over making lifestyle changes for years, but when they decide the time is right, they want results immediately.  Help employees take advantage of moments of motivation by ensuring you have a range of initiatives and resources available to tap into when they’re ready and a clear process for them to access these resources.

8. Make use of technology: Printed information still works for many people looking to make lifestyle changes but you also need to provide online resources in the form of text, audio and video clips so that all staff are able to access wellbeing resources in a format that suits their learning style and will also fit their schedule.  Sometimes they might want to read full details of a specific element of wellbeing while at other times they just want to download a podcast of video they can play back later on the train for a quick burst of motivation.

9. Tap into social media: If you can get staff talking positively about healthy lifestyle choices and the benefits associated with these, you can change the tone of conversations around the organisation and help individuals move away from finding reasons not to do what they know is right and instead strive to make the most of every opportunity to enhance their energy levels and performance.  Social media and fitness, healthy eating and mindfulness Apps provide a great way for people to track progress, research information, and communicate with, support and motivate each other.

10. Target individuals: This may sound like a lot of work, particularly if your organisation employs thousands of people, but only by researching the requirements of individuals will you come up with the wellbeing programme that caters for the majority and provides you with the best value for money.  Think creatively about how to gauge demand – this is where a team of wellbeing champions comes into its own for localised research – and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can pinpoint what will work most successfully.  All businesses have popular characters with their finger on the pulse so make use of these individuals to help you with your research, whether it be structured questionnaires and surveys or informal conversations.

11. Keep people informed: Communicate clearly about your programme keeping staff up to date with what’s on offer and why people should take advantage of your initiatives.  Even the most carefully planned wellbeing programme will have limited results if people aren’t aware of its existence or they’re not clear on why they’d want to participate.

12. Employ creative marketing: It can take repeated exposure to messages before people are motivated to act so broadcast your wellbeing messages from a variety of angles.  Email updates area great but can get lost in the sheer volume that many people are dealing with so supplement these with posters positioned cleverly around your business (toilet doors are a great place to ensure your messages are always seen). 

13. Nudge staff in the direction of wellbeing: Don’t just communicate with information.  A water cooler is a prompt for people to stay well hydrated.  A fruit bowl reminds them to eat their 5-a-day.  Providing staff with pedometers reminds them to keep moving.  When we get busy it’s easy to forget about healthy living or let it slip down our list of priorities.  The more you remind people of the positive choices available to them, the more regularly they will choose to do the right thing.

14. All regular business events should have a wellbeing component:  Staff meetings provide a great opportunities to include wellbeing messages so team updates should always include a quick reminder for everyone to prioritise wellbeing and share ideas on how to make this easy in a busy environment.  What works for one is likely to work for others too. 

15. Wellbeing encourages quality work: A short break to stretch and breath can enhance concentration and productivity and reduce stress levels.  Encourage staff to take regular moments through the day to re-establish their focus.

16. Associate wellbeing with professional success: Training, development and leadership programmes should always include an element of wellbeing.  Staff attend these programmes in order to develop their professional success.   A fundamental part of this success is making sure they are in the best mental and physical state to perform at their best.  Including a combination of strategic wellbeing in the form of workshops, and practical wellbeing in the form of sessions that get people moving, will cater for all learning styles, ensure that messages stick and make each event memorable.

17. Reinforce wellbeing behavior and remove barriers to healthy living: All meetings, reviews and planning sessions should feature plenty of water, fruit, nuts, seeds, healthy snacks and meals as well as the traditional supply of coffee, pastries and sandwiches.  There should also be regular micro breaks to allow people to stretch and clear their head for more