Category: Employee Wellness

Developing an Employee Wellness Culture

Given that there are more than 8,000 vendors serving the corporate wellness market, how do health clubs or wellness centers begin to differentiate their services? In reading a recent article in Modern Healthcare (May 26 issue), I was interested to learn that of the 8,000, four companies account for less than 15 percent of market share. This leaves plenty of opportunity for other wellness providers including your business to partner with small, medium-sized local organizations. The article didn’t mention companies like Virgin Pulse, which has 200 international clients with 1 million participants, so product differentiation is key.

Many clubs already partner with local businesses by offering a corporate discount on membership fees or providing a la carte wellness services, such as fitness screenings or assessments. I believe your club has a better opportunity to make lasting change by first modeling a culture of wellness among your own employees and providing targeted chronic-disease management programs. In this article we’ll go through some key steps to create your own corporate culture. In our next article, we’ll cover developing chronic-disease programs.

By modeling a wellness culture within your club, you gain first-hand knowledge of how to start planning with local businesses, and eventually will have key results to promote. First, consider these five steps:

  • Understand the concept of the benefits of a wellness culture and develop a strategy. Of course you understand the benefits of fitness, it’s your business after all. Here I’m referring to the nuts and bolts of your operation and how you communicate wellness in all aspects of your business to your staff from interviewing to new employee orientation as well as monthly memos or announcements.
  • Build buy-in of key people on your team. If employee retention isn’t a concern, you have motivated, supportive team players on board. Discuss your goals and strategies with your leadership team. Don’t have a leadership team? Organize one with regular meetings to discuss major initiatives, including your goal to be the No. 1 employer of choice in your area.
  • Develop an employee wellness and communications plan. This includes setting goals for enrollment in any type of program and outlining a budget for incentives and program delivery. Regular communication is easy with MailChimp or other e-news delivery programs, but developing consistent content to cover all aspects of the business requires an editorial outline and regular contributors (as well as an editors.)
  • Implement your plan. Getting started is one of the hardest parts. Staff time needs to be allocated for participation in any fitness or wellness events, and for those fitness team members who also will help deliver key components of the program. For example, if you are offering an assessment to all of your employees, calculate the hourly personnel cost.
  • Measure results on an ongoing basis. You’ve read the phrase, “What gets measured, gets done.” Or to spin it Peter Drucker style, what gets measured, gets managed.

Last year, we were honored to receive a Healthiest Employer award in the category of100-499 employees for a project we had managed for 12 years. We were acknowledged for complimentary memberships, group activities, rewards-based incentives and biometric screenings.

But actually we had spent years developing a healthy workplace environment that entailed more than just screenings and free memberships. We worked from the top down to communicate to our team that we were addressing all aspects of wellness for healthy living. Whether it was establishing a 401K plan to assist with savings or reviewing safety procedures, all of our team communications, trainings and policies were part of an overall strategy to support the mission and vision of the business.

In addition, at the start of each benefit plan year, our communications tactics included itemizing all benefits for full-time and part-time staff in an overview of their hidden paycheck. For a wellness program to really take root, it needs to start with benefit plan design and a strategy to communicate mission and vision of the organization. Ultimately, our goal was to become the No. 1 employer of choice given the competitiveness in the fitness and spa industries for outstanding employees.

In launching our employee wellness initiative, we believed it was important for all staff to take part in our branded 5 Alive program, which was also a key membership benefit for the public and an important part of the Center’s retention efforts. With each membership, we offered five essential appointments:

  • Cardiovascular Equipment Orientation (group format)
  • Strength Equipment Orientation (group format)
  • Lifestyle Consultation (one-on-one with exercise physiologist)
  • Nutritional Consultation (based on three-day food intake questionnaire with 15-minute overview with registered dietitian on staff)
  • Personal Training Session (one-on-one with personal trainer)

Our goal in developing 5 Alive was to reinforce our mission of improving health and wellness for the public and our company. We also didn’t want to overlook housekeeping, childcare or spa personnel who may not have focused as much on their personal health and wellness as our fitness team. We also believed every staff member should have first-hand knowledge and experience in talking about 5 Alive, as every single employee was responsible for member satisfaction and sales.

In addition, we partnered with our health insurer to provide the entire employee wellness program online. We offered incentives through quarterly drawings (gift cards) for participation, with the 5Alive program being an important component. At the end of the first year, those team members who successfully completed all steps outlined for ACE were eligible for a discount on their monthly medical insurance premium.

Your team is your greatest resource, and you want them to know that helping them take care of themselves and their families is a priority. An employee wellness program is just the beginning, or at least just one aspect of a multi-level planning and execution strategy to create a wellness culture.

For a free outline on our 5Alive communications program, sign up on our website: