Why are wellness and personal development programs
important for you and your team?

 


 

Throughout most of business history wellness and personal development were seen as being separate from an employee’s work life. If you wanted to join a gym or stop smoking you typically did it on your own time, even if the company paid for it, as it was always expected that your job came first and foremost.

Today, thanks to a wide variety of factors including escalating healthcare costs, rising “unhealthy” trends (obesity, diabetes, etc.), stricter insurance requirements and an overall corporate realization that healthier employees can directly impact the bottom line, wellness and personal development have become hot topics. Companies are starting to understand that incorporating such programs can result in:

• Higher worker productivity

• Reduced healthcare costs on all levels

• Significantly reduced absenteeism and sick days

• Improved employee morale (including reduced turnover)

• And much more

Extensive research over the past few years confirms the above benefits, including financial ones:

• Companies that have implemented wellness programs report from 3-to-1 to 10-to-1 returns on investments depending on the programs deployed. Imagine a stock that returned $10 for every $1 you invested!

• A healthier employee incurs on average 31% less healthcare costs than an unhealthy (sedentary) one

• Nearly 50% of employee medical costs due to illness can be eliminated

• One study at Xerox saw the cost of workers’ comp/disability claims is drop 30% as healthier employees both had less accidents and healed faster

Recognition of the mind & spirit

Another very recent trend is that of recognizing the importance of a healthy mind and spirit. Insurance companies and the government (labor laws) have taken the lead on this front. Such things as “mental health” sick days and forcing employees to take vacation/days off are becoming more mainstream as companies realize even a physically healthy employee can be mentally unhealthy if stressed, overworked, etc. And that results in the same statistics as a traditional unhealthy employee, if not worse.

That’s why most wellness and personal development programs today incorporate aspects of mind-body-spirit in their offerings. No one becomes healthy in a vacuum.

What is a wellness program?

Although the concepts of corporate wellness and personal development have been around for a while there really are no set program definitions. In general, a wellness program is one in which employees engage in learning about/participating in healthy lifestyles. Such programs can cover a wide range of activities, from healthy choices in the company cafeteria to weight loss classes to how to manage daily stress. Wellness and personal development programs are often outsourced to companies that specialize in the requested area and are managed via the human resources function. Wellness programs are often customized one way or another depending on a company’s needs. For example, a company with primarily blue collar workers will have different requirements than one with a majority of office workers.

Sounds great. So what’s the problem?

What research and statistics don’t show is that there is a disconnect between the promise of wellness/personal development programs and reality. This isn’t because wellness programs aren’t effective — in fact the reverse is often true! The trouble occurs because wellness programs, due to their nature, end up taking on participants who may or may not be on board with the program. This is due to a few reasons:

  • Wellness efforts are initiated by the company, not the employees. While they are given strong incentives to take part, employees may not be totally on board even if they volunteer to participate.
  • Employees don’t know themselves whether a wellness program will work or not. They may think they are on board, but they just may be fooling themselves. This is the reason diets and other programs continually fail — participants believe they can do it but they aren’t listening to themselves, how they really should diet.

Thus wellness program providers are often left with a population similar to that of a high school — some people want to succeed, others aren’t so sure and still others refuse to learn altogether. The end results, while impressive, are ultimately lower than they could be.

An easy remedy that seldom works

The traditional solution to getting employees enthusiastic about participating is to employ some form of self help/positive thinking measures. All participants are treated the same and all are giving the same solution. If you hate dieting, just imagine yourself thinner and the program will work out. Just believe it will happen.

Of course, this approach seldom works and research bears this out. People are different, often very different, so it is illogical to assume employees can just think their way out of unhealthy habits. For example, someone may be fat due to genetics, stress at home, low self image or any number of other issues. Until the core problem is uncovered, success within in a wellness program is hardly guaranteed. In fact, recent studies indicate that such an approach can actually be detrimental to the participants. If an employee is told to think positively about losing weight and ultimately can’t do it there is an implication the employee failed, not the approach. The employee is left discouraged and is unlikely to succeed in other wellness initiatives.

The real solution, and the key to true wellness success

How do you really get wellness participants on board with corporate wellness and personal development programs? The key is teaching participants how to find and understand their core, what’s known as flow. By understanding their flow employees are able to know what works for them and what won’t. In the dieting example, a participant who went through flow training would know exactly why s/he is overweight and use a wellness program to tackle that issue.

Flow gives a great foundation to any corporate wellness and/or personal development program. Participants are 100% on board with every activity, even those that are general in nature such as a company-wide initiative. Employees simply adapt the programs to their flow. The results are significant. Since everyone participating wants to be there and wants to achieve their goals, the programs are able to meet and exceed corporate milestones — consistently. Participants realize their own milestones faster and more effortlessly than with traditional approaches. And the overall health of the company (mind-body-spirit) dramatically increases thanks to all the associated benefits including reduced absenteeism, healthcare costs, and turnover.

To learn more about the advantages of adding flow to wellness and personal development programs, contact us today.

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