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Why Workplace Wellness Fails…And What To Do Instead

 How would you reply to this question? (or the response)

Me: Tell me about your Workplace wellness program?

Executive Leader: It’s great! We have an excellent benefits plan. Plus, we launched a new mental health app last year!

This conversation is all too common these days and drives to the heart of the consistent failure of workplace wellness in most organizations. Despite the billions spent on benefits plans and fancy features, people are more stressed, disengaged, and unhealthy than ever.

That’s because…having benefits plans, fancy features, and marketing hype does NOT mean your company has a wellness program!

That’s because…having benefits plans, fancy features, and marketing hype does NOT mean your company has a wellness program!

Here’s a common and related personal analogy to put this Workplace Wellness opportunity into perspective.

Me: “Tell me about your fitness program”

Them: ”Yeah, it’s great! I have a gym membership (which my company pays for). The gym has a really fancy treadmill, and this cool looking ‘cable system thingy’, plus, there’s even free access to a trainer if I want it.”

Me: “That does sound like a great setup. I’m curious…How often do you use this gym? How motivated and inspired are you about what you are doing? Do you know how to use the equipment? How many sessions have you had with the trainer? What results are you getting? Are you happy with those results? What support and encouragement is the gym providing to keep you on track over time? How has this changed how you show up in your life each day?

Them: Ummmmmmm.

If you are like most people, the answers to these questions are less than promising (or non-existent). Yet, mirrors almost every workplace wellness program. On the surface, they look amazing. Yet, the substance and results are severely lacking once we dig below the surface.

The root of both these scenarios stems from the fact that people and companies routinely mistake features and options for real results and transformational change.

Yes, pieces of the puzzle (potential) is helpful, but igniting that potential into focussed action and desired results is what really matters.

The great news for Workplace Wellness is that most companies have many puzzle pieces on the table and ready for use.

They simply need a couple strategic additions so that the pieces can be better utilized. In order to do that, several questions need to be answered by C-suite leadership.

  • What does our desired big picture (puzzle) look like?
  • How does this picture connect to our organizational values and culture?
  • What tangible benefits will realizing this objective produce for our people, business operations, and financial results?
  • What is our strategy to deliver on our desired vision?
  • Which executive leader is responsible for owning this change effort and accountability for the results?

Of course, there are many more tactical and operational questions to answer, but the ones above are most commonly missing from wellness programs. It’s for this reason that we end up with lots of fancy posters and fruit baskets around the office, plus a lunch and learn about the theme of the month (mental health, heart health, diabetes, mindfulness, etc.)

Let me clarify. These features can all be great “pieces of the puzzle”. However, without knowing what the finished picture of the puzzle looks like, or executive accountability for measurable results, how do we know we are even going in the right direction?

I would love to learn more about what “wellness” means to you, and how it shows up in your company?

If you are a mission driven company that truly cares about moving the needle on wellbeing and performance for your people. Let’s chat. My team and I would love to hear more about your vision, and partner with you to make it a reality. You can contact us here.

It’s time to move beyond posters, pedometers, and fruit baskets!

Think, Move, and Be Well.


P.S. Note, if you are looking for improvements in your personal health, fitness and wellbeing, you can check out our expert personal trainers and executive leadership coaching here

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