6 Common Downfalls of Workplace Wellness Programs

Most companies approach workplace wellness programs the wrong way, according to an expert in the area, who explained that there are 6 common mistakes made by organisations in developing and rolling out such programs.

“It is definitely possible to get results from workplace wellness and achieve your business goals,” said Katrina Wilson, director of consulting firm Wellness Designs.

“In fact, research shows that financial performance increases more than 2.5 times when health and wellness is encouraged.

“The problem is that most companies are approaching wellness the wrong way,” said Wilson, who explained that regardless of the industry, the 6 common mistakes when it comes to workplace wellness are:

  • They fail to convince the “C-suite”
  • They totally miss the mark
  • They adopt a scattergun or ‘tick the box’ approach
  • They are looking for a ‘quick fix’
  • They don’t build capacity in-house to drive the strategy
  • They fail to measure the impact and value of their investment

Wilson, who recently presented a Safety Institute of Australia webinar on how to create a wellness strategy that impacts the bottom line, said there are a number of steps organisations can take to address these challenges.

“Having a customised wellness strategy is great, but it only solves half the problem. Organisations need a team that can action your strategy, so that it delivers its intended results.”

The challenge is that wellness is often tacked on to the health and safety or HR officer’s job description, and Wilson said they typically don’t receive professional wellness training and are left feeling their way in the dark with little guidance.

To help address this, Wilson developed a “Wellness Wise Academy” and she also recognised that securing buy-in at all levels of the organisation – from senior management to front line employees is critical for building a wellness culture.

Wilson added that evaluation is critical to getting results for a wellness strategy – yet she said only 12 per cent of Australian workplaces measure the overall return on investment on their workplace health and wellness program.

“You need to clearly articulate your wellness objectives and be able to measure success in order to get the executive level buy-in and resources required for effective implementation."

“Demonstrating the overall value-on-investment of your strategy will ultimately come back to what are the key drivers for investing in the first place, and how this aligns to the broader organisational goals."

“For example, is it about attracting and retaining top talent, preventing workplace injury or boosting morale and engagement, or a combination of these and other factors?"

“Measuring the impact also helps tweak your strategy to ensure results.”

There are a number of important implications in this for OHS professionals, according to Wilson, who quoted Dame Carol Black’s ‘it’s hard to be a safe worker if you’re not a healthy worker.”

“Given we spend a third of our life at work, and faced with an ageing workforce, an increasing war for talent in a global marketplace, and the changing nature of work, investing in an integrated approach to health, safety and wellness management will become even more critical to future proofing organisations into the future."

Article first published by The Safety Institute of Australia.

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