Build Your Business on Wellness

By Mark Wayne
Oct. 11, 2012

Just as wellness is an afterthought for too many Americans (I just don’t have the time/money/energy to go to the gym today), corporate wellness is often ignored or under-prioritized by too many companies. That is unfortunate, because companies that do not actively encourage and nurture a strong professional culture of health and wellness in the workplace are missing out on an extraordinary opportunity to help their employees, help themselves, and ultimately boost their bottom line.

The simple fact is this: A well-designed corporate wellness program can and does impact employee productivity and well-being. The cascade of benefits that flows from a healthier, more energetic and more engaged workforce is significant, and the value of workplace wellness programs can be profound. This is a phenomenon I can speak about with confidence, because I have witnessed the results firsthand. Our experiences here at Freedom One Financial Group have confirmed my belief that a culture of workplace wellness makes it possible for employees to come to work in an atmosphere that encourages them to be positive and accountable, while improving their own personal and professional well-being. And because healthier and happier employees are subsequently more productive, energized and engaged, actively promoting employee wellness is an investment that literally and figuratively pays off.

Here are some of the ways in which all companies can take steps to enhance corporate wellness, and how wellness can make the workplace a more pleasurable and profitable place:

Make an investment
Talking about promoting wellness is one thing, but to really be effective, employees need to have access to the resources and facilities necessary to make that happen. Here at Freedom One, for example, we used the opportunity of moving into a new building in 2003 to design a fully-equipped in-house fitness center. While not every company has the logistical or financial wherewithal to build something similar, virtually every firm can take steps to provide the kind of infrastructure that promotes healthy behaviors and activities. Education is a big piece of the puzzle as well: business owners, human resources directors, wellness program directors or employee benefits coordinators should work to ensure that their employees are getting the best information and resources possible to make healthy life decisions.

Use goals and incentives
Goals and incentives are an effective and rewarding way to boost employee morale, encourage healthy habits, and increase participation in wellness programs. Hold health challenges, weight-loss contests, or similar health and fitness competitions where employees are motivated to get—and stay—in shape and have their hard work recognized by their peers. Make the prizes attractive and worthwhile (one of our recent grand prizes for an in-house competition was a Caribbean cruise!). Consider providing an incentive to stop smoking, or to subsidize discounted health premiums for employees who meet certain health and wellness benchmarks.

Get creative
Use anything and everything to help your employees reach their goals and embrace a healthy and more active lifestyle. Bring in experts like personal trainers, wellness coaches and professional nutritionists, and host or sponsor aerobics and weight lifting classes. Give employees healthy options, such as healthy vending machine snacks, free fruit, and healthy choices in the cafeteria. Work with their schedules, with lunch-hour and after-work classes, and think about reimbursing employees for the costs of joining local gyms, yoga studios or fitness centers.

Understand the benefits
While plenty of workplace wellness advocates tout the potential financial impact of health and wellness programs, there is not always a bright or direct line between investing in corporate wellness and demonstrable ROI. Make no mistake however, the payoff is there. Lower health insurance premiums are always a possibility, but there are far more important benefits: from less time off, to higher productivity, to positive and healthy attitudes. Your team’s enhanced health absolutely translates to enhanced performance. An in-depth corporate wellness program with accompanying facilities is also a difference-maker when it comes to recruiting and retaining great talent.

Do not get too bogged down in worrying about whether or not employee wellness will pay off—it will. Focus on improving your wellness infrastructure; spend less time crunching the numbers and more time finding ways to get your employees to do actual crunches. Above all else, do not think of health and wellness as an afterthought: think of it as one of the central pillars of running a productive and successful company. Implementing strong corporate wellness programs is based on the recognition that human capital is the single most important asset of any firm. Making a long-term investment in the health of that asset, and doing your best to make sure that that asset is working at optimum efficiency and firing on all cylinders is not just good business sense, it is also the right thing to do.

Mark Wayne is president & CEO of Clarkston, Mich.-based Freedom One Financial Group, the firm he founded in 1988 with the purpose of elevating the employer experience by delivering excellence in the servicing of corporate retirement plans. Freedom One Financial Group specializes in providing state-of-the-art employee communications and administrative services to more than 1,000 clients across the U.S. Contact Wayne at [email protected].