Trends in Corporate Wellness

I'm looking forward to meeting with the Employer Advisory Council at St.  Luke's in Twin Falls, Idaho.  I will be presenting  “Workplace Wellness that Works:  Starting with Strengths”.  We will be looking at some of the key trends in corporate wellness, keeping in mind that according to WELCOA only 7% of plans are comprehensive and incorporate the seven-step process suggested by WELCOA.

Benefits of corporate wellness programs are many, including lower absenteeism, higher job satisfaction and work productivity, higher employee retention, and lower health care costs.  Read this article from Fortune for the specific benefit statistics, along with the five best practices they identify (programs are practical and accessible, the work environment is health-conscious, wellness is integrated into the company's structure, wellness is linked to existing support programs, and health screenings and education are offered).

I personally think that comprehensive plans (especially since only 7% of companies have them) must be A LOT to bite off.  I can picture the “analysis paralysis” happening across the country.  I prefer that organizations just get started on some simple, easy action items.  I can them baby steps.  I show eight of theme here:

1. Hold walking meetings.  Obama, Zuckerberg, Jobs and Branson are the most famous advocates of the ‘walk and talk'. A study carried out in 2014 by Stanford University found a person’s creative output increased on average by 60 per cent when walking.

2.  Please, don't take a seat.  Standing desks have cured headaches, leg cramps, back pain and have helped people with their energy levels. Read this Washington Post article, Standing Desks Sit Well with More Employees.

3. Build a story bank of wellness heroes.  People love stories, and they love to connect at an emotional level.  Places like Draper, Inc., produce a monthly newsletter featuring “wellness superheroes” who are named by their peers for modeling healthy behaviors in the workplace.  Jamie Dimon's story of cancer recovery was an inspiration for many employees at JP Morgan to integrate wellness into their daily lives.

4.  Offer fun, brief education.  The “Lunch and Learn” has often gotten a bad reputation (why– is it considered to “lightweight” of an intervention?  I'll argue that it is better than none).  Read about how Bitly has very successful Lunch and Learns each Wednesday.  Now they just need to have someone bring up healthy cooking as a topic!

5.  Add brief but consistent fun.  The Fun Department has been doing “fun interventions for years.  Listen to this interview with Fun Dept. founder Nick Gianoulis about how you can bring fun into your organization.

6. Find your in-house comedian.  Laughter lowers your cortisol and increases your memory. It may also lower your risk for cardiovascular disease.  Read more in this article from the Huffington Post.

7. Use signage to inspire movement. This white paper points to the CDC as a great source for signage that works.  I personally prefer smiley stickers.

8. Use power poses to manage employee stress levels.  Yup, you know how much I love Amy Cuddy's work!

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