Well-Being//

Corporate Wellness Best Practices

And why they don't matter

I recently heard corporate culture maven and former chief talent officer at Netflix, Patty McCord quip, “best practices are just what everyone else does…or what Google does.”

Right on, Patty. Right on.

If I had a nickel for every company that wanted a wellness program like Google, but wasn’t willing to carve out time during the work day for employees to participate, I’d have a Santa sack filled with silver coins. It’s not wrong to want a program that emulates Google. Heck, it’s quite admirable, but the reason Google has become the gold star in wellness is not because they utilize best practices, it’s because they have discovered the secret to folding best practices into their thriving culture.

The tricky thing about best practices is everyone thinks you are supposed to follow them. They are, after all, best practices. What that really means is a group of companies have found success implementing a specific set of guidelines. But, that doesn’t mean they are right for everyone. Never has this been truer than in the corporate wellness sphere. The truth is, best practices only matter when you have a culture that champions them.

Too often, companies jump the gun in building a wellness program and throw a bunch of events together and slap a wellness logo over it. The problem with this approach is that it’s not really a program. There is no plan of action to accomplish a specified end and there is typically no analysis of culture.

The good news is that it’s not too late to create a thriving wellness program. With careful cultural analysis, a bit of tweaking and a lot of enthusiasm, you can build the program you know you were meant to have.

Here are six steps to determining your company culture before checking those wellness best practice boxes:

1. Pinpoint your company identity. 

This includes your mission, values and aspirations. Be honest about who you are– your short comings, your successes and your future growth plan. This will set the foundation for building your wellness program.

2. Identify leadership style. 

Make sure your leaders and managers are not only onboard, but live the company mission and embody company values. If your managers won’t let employees leave the desk at lunch time, how can you promote wellness? When management is supportive and encouraging of the overall culture and wellness objectives, you will have an easier time engaging employees.

3. Ensure company policies align with company values. 

Examine your policies to ensure they match up to your company vision and goals. If you tout employee flexibility and then scoff at work from home policies- this sends mixed messages to your employees and can prevent wellness engagement. Make sure your company walks the talk.

4. Consider the role of technology. 

Initially, technology was developed to make our jobs easier. Technology has accelerated the pace of work and caused an ‘always on phenomenon.’ If you work in an ‘always on culture’, work life balance and engagement will never exist. Adding policies that put restrictions on sending emails after a certain time provide your employees the opportunity to set boundaries, paving the way for much needed recharging.

5. Address meeting culture. 

Does your organization live and die by meetings? Are you booked back to back all day and sometimes all night? Understanding operational workday flow plays a big role in how you schedule programs and drive engagement. Encourage your organization to trim down on unnecessary meetings and promote wellness offerings throughout the day.

6. Organize organizational communication. 

How often, how much and in what way? Think about how your company communicates and be open to new channels. If your policy is to only communicate by email, your wellness communications will get lost in the mix. Your message and how it is communicated matters. Make sure your message is tailored to your audience in ways that reach them effectively.


These six steps are just the beginning. To be successful you need to make sure that what you say you stand for, is really what you do through every employee touch point. Authenticity is king and without it, your program will fall flat. You don’t need a perfect culture to begin, just an honest assessment. Through small steps you can get where you ultimately want to be.

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