4 Ways to Create a Company Culture that Promotes Wellness

Anna Kleiner

Health and wellness has become a hot topic throughout the nation, and many companies are jumping onto this trend as a way to create a positive company culture. Popular choices for introducing wellness to the workplace include promoting in-office diet challenges, subsidizing gym memberships, and even adding an onsite health clinic to company headquarters.

There are a lot of options available for encouraging employee wellness at your workplace. The challenge is choosing what you want to implement, and then making sure that your employees not only get engaged, but stay engaged with their health so that you get the most out of your investment.

1. Know your employees.

Knowing your workforce and what is most beneficial for them is the key to successfully implementing an employee wellness program. Every workforce has its own unique health challenges and motivators, and it’s essential to keep this in mind when starting a wellness program. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to employee wellness will set your program up for failure before it even begins. 

So what do we mean by “knowing your workforce?” 

First, find the most common health issue in your workforce. Maybe a lot of your employees struggle with smoking, healthy eating, or weight loss.  Identifying the most prominent issues will help you determine what elements will have the most impact on your employees’ health. 

Next, find out what motivates your employees—in other words, what incentive will support employees continued focus on their health? How often do they need to receive incentives for them to be effective? Some companies reward employees who meet a certain biometric standard at the same time each year by fully subsidizing their health insurance for the year. Other companies use a points system that offers monthly rewards for employees who reach wellness milestones. It all depends on what works for your workforce. 

2. Know your culture.

That’s your culture today, not the culture you want to have or aspire to. Knowing your culture and how you and your employees work on a daily basis will help you find out how quickly you can start to implement a wellness program and what the roadblocks are in your current culture. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What is my workplace like? Is there a defined hierarchy, or is it more casual? What are the working hours? Is it blue collar, white collar, no-collar or somewhere in-between?
  • What’s the usual process when someone gets sick? Do they have to come in? Work from home? Take PTO?
  • How is wellness seen in my company today? Are a lot of people engaged with their health on their own? How do people talk about it?

3. Get support from your leaders.

Without the support of your company’s leaders—of every level—your program will fail. It doesn’t matter if you’ve found the right incentives for your employees and gotten them excited about their health if you don’t have buy-in from their managers and your executive leadership team. Your leaders have to be behind you 100% to give your employees the support and time they need to engage with their health. 

Leadership support has to go beyond simply approving the wellness program you decide. Having leaders act as examples to your employees by getting engaged in the wellness program—and actively encouraging employees to join them—will have a significant impact on the success of your program.

4. See the plan through

Implementing a wellness program isn’t a one-and-done type initiative. It’s a long-term commitment, and depending upon your organization, it may be a multi-year program in order to get all employees on board and reach full participation. So if you don’t see an immediate, full-scale response, don’t throw in the towel. Be sure to solicit feedback from employees on the effectiveness of the wellness program, and then tailor benefits and rewards to help increase participation. And ensure that all your executives are also following suite, to better drive compliance.