Above: LRP Media Group at the American Heart Association Heart Walk
Health and wellness, both at home and at work are more important than ever. With the benefits world in continuous flux — from the multitude of packages in today’s market to modern workforce demographics — staying ahead of the competition to recruit new talent and retain your existing workforce can be challenging.
There is good reason to place a high importance on wellness programs done right at work. A quick search on sites such as Mind Body Green, Spirituality and Health, Inc., Forbes, and Thrive Global reveals many articles published on the topic of health and wellness at work.
A strong corporate culture is important to build a foundation of trust among current and former employees. Alan Kohll, founder and president of TotalWellness, a national wellness services provider says, “Company culture is an integral part of business. It affects nearly every aspect of a company. From recruiting top talent to improving employee satisfaction, it’s the backbone of a happy workforce.”[i]
Health and Wellness at Work
If a walk down to your human resources (HR) department feels more like you’re taking a trip to the principal’s office, then there might be a problem with company culture at your workplace. No one wants to work in fear that their every move is being watched and monitored. Micromanaging and other outdated management techniques do little to motivate employees and in fact most likely contributes to a stressful work environment. This can result in a lack of motivation, employee burnout and increased HR expenses due to a high employee turnover rate.
Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, and Jennifer Morgan, President of the Americas and Asia Pacific Japan at SAP, spoke at the HR Technology Conference & Exposition®. Their keynote presentation, From Surviving to Thriving: Health, Wellness, Culture and the Future of Engaging Your Workforce, took a candid look at how HR technology is enabling employee health and well-being to help businesses not only survive, but also THRIVE![ii]
The presentation focused on the fact that roughly 70 percent of US employees say they feel burned out and that nearly eight out of 10 companies identify stress as a top workforce health risk — higher than obesity, smoking and poor nutrition. Huffington and Morgan went on to examine the epidemic of stress and burnout in the workplace, which results in billions of dollars of lost productivity every year. In conclusion they mentioned that when you merge HR technology, with the latest strategies and tools around health and well-being this enables employers to better support their employees. Simply put, when you focus on the people, the numbers will follow.
The Importance of Community Outreach
A healthy corporate culture should include opportunities for the company to give back to the community while at the same time providing amble opportunities for co-workers to get to know each other and feel like they are a valuable and appreciated member of the company.
LRP Media Group in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida has gone all out on their new corporate wellness program. “During my 12 year tenure at my last company we had a complete wellness strategy that included many events for employees, so I brought that knowledge with me when I came to work at LRP,” said Karyn Wukoson, VP of Human Resources. “You need to be flexible enough to change and update your strategy to meet the ever-changing needs of your employees. Anyone that tells you they have a ‘one size fits all’ strategy – I feel like that doesn’t really work. You need to find the perfect balance to engage with most of your employees.”
When asked about doing charity events Wukoson said she chose the American Heart Association (AHA) Heart Walk as a test to see how employees would take to doing athletic events as a team. The walk took place on a Saturday, outside of normal business hours, in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida. The key to making the event so successful hinged on several factors including allowing employees to invite their family members to join the team.
“We partnered with AHA and they were really great to work with,” says Wukoson. “We opened the team to friends and family members which was great – we had a lot of employees show up to the walk with their children. We also made company t-shirts, so we all looked like a cohesive team – this was great for the group photo opportunity which we shared on social media and our company newsletter. We are trying to change the company culture and are looking at and researching other organizations for possible future events.”
Investing in Employee Well-Being
Wukoson mentioned that it can be difficult, especially in the beginning, to get employer buy-in at the corporate level. The HR department often has a hard time proving return on investment. Some of these health and wellness programs are quite expensive so it’s very important to get approval from management to have a specific budget you can devote to your corporate employee wellness program.
She also remarked that you can’t tell how much business your wellness strategy is going to bring in. It’s all about a long-term strategy and the HR and benefits department are probably in the top 3 of business expenditures. If the company owners and executive suite can’t see past dollars in and dollars out, then it’s going to be hard to get your wellness program off the ground.
When asked if the HR department has any other events on the horizon, LRP’s Human Resources Coordinator Bianca Brescia mentioned, “We try to plan out events on a quarterly basis. We recently did a kick off to Heart Month, in support of the Heart Association. We included a heart health survey in the newsletter and one day we brought in fruit platters for a healthy mid-morning snack. Another one of our activities included encouraging employees to wear red in support of National Wear Red Day on February 1st. It was the perfect opportunity for a group photo that we shared on our social media sites – the photo was also featured on the AHA Facebook page!”
I asked Wukoson and Brescia if they have any predictions for the future of corporate wellness strategies in the workplace or if they have any predictions for the future of health and wellness policies in the workforce. They mentioned the need to be adaptable, don’t get set in your ways and always listen to comments and suggestions coming from employees. Just because you haven’t done it before doesn’t mean it’s not going to work in the future, change is hard sometimes, but you do have to change to stay current.
Discovering the Latest HR and Benefits Trends
Conferences are a wonderful way for attendees to get inspired and collect practical takeaways from the industry experts leading the innovation for change. Most of these events include an Expo Hall letting you see and compare products and services side-by-side from dozens of leading solution providers.
Brescia mentioned that, “Events, such as the Human Resource Executive® Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, provide a one-stop solution to help you optimize your company’s benefits strategy to achieve maximum success.”
Mary Gilmore, Principal Analyst, County of Los Angeles mentioned the conference “is an excellent opportunity to network with peers, discover emerging trends in HR and learn about innovative HR products. I took away a lot of thought-provoking ideas and concepts!”
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[i] Kohll, Alan. “How to Build A Positive Company Culture.” Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2018/08/14/how-to-build-a-positive-company-culture/#37d5aadb49b5.
[ii] Fortune, Rennette and Jeanne Achille. “Arianna Huffington Will Keynote Next Week’s HR Technology Conference & Exposition.” HR Tech Insiders. Retrieved from: https://blog.hrtechnologyconference.com/arianna-huffington-will-keynote-next-weeks-hr-technology-conference-exposition/