How To Change Corporate Wellness...Forever.
by Live Better
Let's get right to the root of the problem. "Corporate wellness" is reactive, outdated, slow, and ineffective (as it currently stands). We're happy to see yoga instructors coming in once a week, healthier food being served for lunch meetings, and "Flex Fridays" becoming more popular, but the conversation isn't changing.
The fact of the matter is that corporate wellness is surface level. It's still taboo to talk about taking care of your health in the office, much less making it a priority. Businesses are still run (for the time being...) by human beings. How those human beings feel and behave at work directly affects the quality of business conducted.
Without wellness woven into the fabric of corporate culture, it will inevitably fail.
Consider this question: Is it better to first create healthier, happier employees in order to increase productivity, or to first prioritize productivity and workload before considering the physical and mental well-being of employees?
Another question - is it the responsibility of an employer to take care of their employees' health?
Topic #1: A top-down approach to wellness must be taken in order to create majority involvement. C-suite participation is mandatory in order to breed buy-in from new hires.
If the CEO of a company is out running marathons, attending workout classes, eating healthy, talking about physical and mental health strategies that help them perform in the office, and outwardly prioritizing their well-being, what effect do you think that will have on someone who gets hired on?
Talk the talk, and walk the walk. Lead by example AND by teaching.
Your CEO doesn't need to be a professional athlete. He or she doesn't need to be stereotypically "in shape" (usually irrelevant and incorrectly defined), however, they do need to display a growth mindset in terms of wanting to be better than they were yesterday ("Best Day Ever" mindset, anyone?).
Topic #2: Corporate culture must provide social support for making positive wellness choices, not place a negative social stigma around workplace wellness.
This seems obvious, but I saw more than one pair of eyes roll when I used to bring in my lunch to avoid having pizza for every meeting. That's contributing to the problem. Discouraging someone from being healthy is the worst kind of systemic failure we have in our current wellness culture. Judging someone for the way they look or act in pursuit of better health is toxic.
Mental health also fits into this category. We can't continue to run our employees into the ground, especially in high stress, performance environments. Our technology culture is moving too fast and is too connected for our brain to keep up...and it's never been like this before. What worked 25 years ago doesn't work today.
Outdated work values and corporate policies must be updated. We are all for never complaining, however, that's different than speaking up about carrying around too much stress.
Email is now 24/7; what's to stop you from working 24 hours a day?
Our "flexible work arrangements" are great, but they should be respected instead of taken advantage of. It is the responsibility of both employer and employee to be open and honest in communicating expectations. Get your work done, well and on-time, then put the phone and computer down.
Mindfulness in corporate culture does NOT mean removing stress, but simply finding better ways to manage it (and ultimately hone it to be eustress).
Topic #3: Offering health care does not make your employees healthier.
Healthcare is reactive in nature. It's there as an insurance policy for when things go wrong. Most people are not incentivized to utilize proactive, covered services (e.g. chiropractor, check-ups, etc). Maybe your company or firm offers "wellness benefits", maybe even a stipend for personal spending, but what is actively being done to promote wellness for employees?
We believe wellness is the foundation for doing anything well. With more energy, a positive mindset, and health social support, productivity goes through the roof.
What we propose isn't just hosting classes in the office or substituting healthy food, but truly putting the physical and mental health of employees at the top of the priority list. Wellness education is just as important as the technical skills; without your health, the technical skills don't matter. Decreased productivity, more sick days taken, and workplace dissatisfaction (leaving retention rates lower due to burnout), don't contribute to a strong bottom line.
Selfishly, creating a healthier workplace is better for business. In the same manner, personally focusing on your health allows you to do anything better, meaning a full tank of gas allows you to go further, faster, for longer.
How do we use wellness as the vehicle to drive better business?
Topic #4: Does each employee, from new hires up to the CEO, know they have the support and resources (financial, logistical, and social) to be "healthy", both physically and mentally, in the office?
We don't support the notion of "work-life balance." The "balance" is simply life, of which work takes up a majority share. The human being you are in your free time contributes to the quality of employee you are, and vice versa.
We're not suggesting daily comped massages and personal trainers for everyone, but what proactive measures are being taken to facilitate better health for employees? A few suggestions might be:
Provide wellness experiences, such as classes, day trips, "lunch & learns", meeting additions like meditations, stipends to attend gyms, retreats, or further professional development
Wellness office "audits" on a regular basis (e.g. what food is being served, employee health surveys, Q&A's on employee happiness, and flexibility initiatives
Coaching support (access to physical and mental coaches to help structure wellness performance initiatives on an individual level)
Mindfulness objectives to manage workload and workplace culture
The investment in employee health is the most important priority a company has (whether or not they explicitly define it).
Growth is going from N to N+1. There is no objective level "N"...it is simply going from one level to the next.
Meet your employees where they're at, and help them get better. Destigmatize taking care of health at the office, both physical and mental. Support your peers, mentor your mentees, and be the example of change you want to see in the office.