By now, you’ve probably heard lots of talk about employee health programmes and buzzwords such as ‘corporate wellness’, ‘corporate wellbeing’ and ‘employee mindfulness’, but what is it all really about? Corporate wellness programmes have become very popular in recent times because employers are now realising that levels of productivity (and ultimately their bottom-line!) are directly linked to the health and happiness of their employees. There are many different types of initiatives and activities that can fall under the umbrella of workplace health promotion, ranging from lunchtime yoga sessions, nail treatments to pension advice, and everything in-between!
Research is showing that improving the diet of employees is one of the most effective forms of workplace health promotion. Employees are spending longer periods of time in their workplaces and often rely on their workplace to provide one, if not two, of their daily meals meaning there is ample opportunity for nutrition programmes to improve employee health. However, this all sounds well and good on paper but what happens when you get down to the nitty-gritty of actually implementing a programme? What are the steps to ensure that your workplace nutrition programme is a success?
- Backing by the boss!
In order for employees to buy into a health promotion programme and ensure its success, they need to see that the company leaders are on board and involved. This includes allocating sufficient resources to the programme so it can be implemented seamlessly and being well versed on the benefits, targets and progress of the programme. Company leaders need to ‘practice what they preach’ and be seen to openly champion the programme. Having backing by the boss has been shown to foster employee engagement and boost morale in the workplace.
- Create a supportive environment
There is no point in committing to a workplace health promotion programme unless you are willing to provide an environment that will support the programme. In business, time is money. Employees can often miss out on engaging with a programme if they feel under time pressure in work. Company leaders need to work to integrate these programmes into workday routines so employees know that it is OK to take time out to engage in the programme.
- Give people roles
Two heads are better than one! It is important that company leaders involve different individuals from different departments and at different career levels to implement the programme. Programmes are more likely to be successful if there are clear and open lines of communication and everyone is aware who is responsible for each action. Involving different employees at different levels will also increase their sense of ownership of the programme which will again fast track its acceptance in the workplace.
- Keep it fresh!
For any workplace programme to be successful, it needs to become part of the culture and climate of the workplace. It is also important that initiatives are kept fresh and exciting in order to maintain a sense of momentum around the ‘feel-good’ factor these programmes bring. Make sure to ask your employees what they actually want – what do they feel works well and what would like to see more of? Keeping things exciting will get people talking and will continue to boost morale and engagement with the programme which will ultimately improve your bottom-line.
- Measure the impact
Perhaps the most important factor in ensuring the success of your workplace health promotion programme is to actually measure the impact of it. Often with workplace nutrition programmes, the focus is put on the impact the programme is having on employee health. Workplace nutrition programmes can be a win-win for both employee health and also for an employer’s bottom-line. Such programmes can boost food sales and reduce absenteeism which can result in a positive return on investment for employers. However, if you want to prove this, the impact needs to be measured systematically and objectively!