Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Corporate Wellness: You Can Do Anything But You Can't Do Everything

NIFS | Corporate Wellness

American is the land of opportunity and from the time we are children, most of our parents have encouraged us to take advantage of these opportunities. They encourage us to understand that we can be anything we dream of when we grow up, accomplish any goal we set our minds to, and with hard work can achieve what others think is impossible. While these are great confidence boosters for children, as we become adults many of us have a hard time distinguishing between being able to do anything and being able to do everything. It is great to set your goals high but you have to prioritize to be able to achieve them.

This is something I see day in and day out as a fitness professional with my clients. I also see it in the unrealistic expectations I set for myself. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon you can’t expect to strength train three times a week, lose those pesky 10 pounds that have been hanging around, keep up with kids activities, maintain a full-time job, sleep eight hours a night, volunteer at your church, and have healthy meals prepared each dinnertime. Something has to give! This is where a dreaded word comes into the mix: “NO.”

Read More [4 Ways to Find a Healthy Relationship with Exercise]

We have a passion for so many things and a desire to please others but we have to prioritize. You can run that marathon but you may have to give up volunteering at your church to complete some long runs on the weekends. You may have to eat leftovers for dinner a few times a week to keep up with your training schedule. It is ok to say no or push some things to the back burner for a while so you can achieve the “anything” you have set out to accomplish. If different things become a priority, you can pull them to the forefront again.

Living a healthy lifestyle can be overwhelming. There are 7 different dimensions of well-being that we are constantly trying to balance. Cut yourself some slack and remember you cannot do everything, especially not all at once. Pick one or two things and make them your top priority. See how these affect your life and decide if they are habits worth keeping. Once you find a good balance, try adding another and see how you do. You can achieve any health/fitness goal but you cannot achieve all of them at once. Write down your top health/fitness goal for the month and focus on that for 30 days. You will feel a sense of accomplishment and build a confident attitude that says that you can do ANYTHING, just not EVERYTHING.

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Topics: healthy lifestyle balanced life health and fitness goals corporate wellness wellness and fitness

Tips for a Healthier Work Environment, Part II - Everyday is Moving Day

This topic may not make you drool like the first one we did on workplace food, but it is something that we know needs to be addressed. MOVING. It’s just one of those things we cannot get around in the corporate world, and no matter what you do in a typical office setting, employees are likely to be performing their job responsibilities on the phone or in front of a computer. Sitting down. All day long. So how can we make some improvements in this area without mandating walks every few hours? Below are some ideas to help employees move more during their day and to ensure they are encouraged and given the opportunity to move while attending meetings and maneuvering throughout their day.Woman at Computer Stretching GettyImages-501332192.jpg

Stretch your meetings – We’ve all either presented to an audience who’s drifting off (or we’ve been the drifters). One way to prevent this is to take short breaks during the meeting. Have your entire audience stand up, and provide some quick stretches. If you don’t feel comfortable leading the stretches, add a few slides to your presentation that will pop up as a reminder to take a break during your meeting. This will get their blood moving, out of their seats, and will help them remain focused on what you have to say. If you happen to have an onsite fitness center with staff, this is a great time to have them break the monotony with a quick stretch break for you! The same thing can be done if you manage a department of people. Have them take a quick break from calls and looking at their computer screens to stretch their necks, hands, arms and upper back. These areas can take a beating with lack of movement, and your employees will appreciate the time you’ve taken to invest in their well-being with a simple stretch break.

[Read More: 5 tips to help your employees move more]

Stand up for yourself – Literally. I mean stand up for yourself and work while you’re at it! The harmful effects of sitting have been widely published, and while a standing workstation won’t fix everything, it’s an option to help employees move more. This is an investment so consider purchasing only a few where employees can have access to it for 15-30 minutes during the day.  How else can you encourage your employees to get more movement throughout the day? Here are several suggestions. Rather than giving every desk a trash can, have a community trash area so employees have to get up to throw items away. Store your lunch in a refrigerator that’s down the hall or on a different floor. Use the stairs as much as possible, even if it is just going down, or have a 3 flight rule. If you aren’t going more than 3 flights, take the stairs, always! Encourage walking breaks or group walks. I also love the idea of an adjustable desk. This is another investment but well worth it so you can combine sitting and standing during the work day.

Sound the alarm – We’re all guilty of getting so involved in a task that we lose track of time and the next thing you know, you haven’t moved from your seat for hours. Some companies are using their intercom system to remind employees to get out of their seats for a moment. This can be a quick stretch, walk down the hall, or water break. Whatever it is, the reminder is set so we don’t get lost in time and forget to move our bodies. This can also be accomplished by setting a reoccurring Outlook reminder, or if you’re managing a department, you can pre-set several emails per day to spark your team to move. Dare I suggest that department leads also consider more interaction with their employees with a vocal prompt to stand up and move a bit during certain times of the day. Now we're getting somewhere! 

I'll let these ideas jog through your mind until next week when I offer the last part in this series. I will say it happens to be more slow paced. Can we afford a slow pace in today's corporate world? I believe the answer is yes. 

Tips for a Healthier Wok Environtment - Part I

Topics: healthy work environment happy employees corporate wellness workplace wellness corporate wellness programs stretching stretch break

Tips for a Healthier Work Environment, Part I - Food Check

Are you seeking ways to introduce healthier elements into your work environment and meetings? It’s a great idea and one that makes employees feel appreciated and valued by their organization. In surveys where employees are asked if they are supported by their company or manager, too many times I’ve seen that they do not respond with positive feedback. What I DO see is a plea for better options and support from their managers as they try to implement a healthier lifestyle. I also don’t think they are looking for a grandiose gesture, but just sincere thoughtfulness that makes them feel like their employer CARES for them and their well-being. If you’d like to raise the bar on how your employees feel you’re supporting their health, follow our 3-part blog series on designing a healthy workplace.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. FOOD.

Hit the bar – Don’t get too excited, I’m not talking the place you go for happy hour. I’m talking about hosting a healthy food bar at work. The all too familiar donuts, cookies, and cakes that are served as rewards and celebrations is getting to be too sweet of a deal. It’s a nice thought but what your employees may rather have is something that they can indulge in and not get off track with their nutrition goals.

Rather than rewarding with sweets, try offering something that communicates your commitment to helping employees live well. Consider hosting a healthy bagel bar (buy the mini bagels) with low-fat cream cheese options, smoked salmon, PB&J, avocado, almond butter, hard boiled eggs and bananas as toppings. Try a yogurt bar that you can fill with fruits, nuts, seeds and honey. You can also go vegan, and avoid lactose with some non-traditional varieties of yogurt. If you’re looking for something to top that, why not bring in a smoothie vendor to offer several of their most popular varieties? These can have ingredients that include your favorite fruits but also vegetables, wheat grass, green tea, vitamins, and protein powder. Can I get an AMEN for sneaking in veggies and other healthy ingredients?

Food Truck Open GettyImages-645575706.jpg

Truck it – I’m talking about Food Trucks of course! These days, there are a variety of choices for bringing healthy options TO your employees. Yes, there are plenty of unhealthy options in this area but I’d like to focus on something modern, different and possibly out of the ordinary for rewarding your employees. I suggest you to take some time to research local, healthy food trucks. You’ll find varieties that include smoothie trucks, fresh organic salads and sandwiches, locally raised and hormone free options, vegan trucks and changing menus depending on what’s in season. Not only is this a trendy idea but it supports your local businesses and it also gets your employees up and moving toward fresh air.

If this event goes over well, you could line up several healthy options in the future (for example, first Friday of the month is “Food Truck Friday”). Some trucks might need a guarantee so they know the trip is worth their time, but if you can provide a certain amount of free sample items for your employees, most likely they will purchase more when they get to the front of the line. That’s a win for the employees and for the truck owner. If your culture supports an eat-at-your-desk mentality, you may have to get creative to encourage your employees to truly use their lunch break. (Side note – it also supports your local economy, so this is truly a win-win.)

Demo-day – You’ve probably tried something like lunch and learns, health professionals coming in to do presentations, and different health screenings. I don’t think these are a bad idea in their traditional form, but how about considering something more light-hearted, that smells delicious and is also educational. See what you can cook up for a chef or a registered dietitian offering a healthy cooking demonstration for your employees. Not only do the employees get some delicious taste tests at work, but their families may also benefit from new and delicious recipes as well.

The reward system – It’s common to see food as a reward for a job well done.  But I’d like to turn that on its head. Providing access to healthier choices for your employees creates a whole environment and workplace experience that’s rewarding. There are several ways you can do this and I’m sure at least one will be doable at your organization. If you have a cafeteria, try a reward or discount program for the healthy items. Here are some examples on how to offer this. If employees choose the salad bar, sandwich station, fresh fruit or soup, they get a certain discount on their total bill. If the system is set up where the cost of a healthier choice is lower than the unhealthy options, employees are more likely to grab some greens for lunch.

If that sounds like something you’d like to dip your toes in, but either don’t have a cafeteria or it seems like a big jump, you can start with your vending machines. Talk to your vending machine provider and ask for healthier options, label them and give a discount on these items. You can also consider completely revamping your vending machine offerings for a healthy, fresh version. You might see items in these machines like apples, hard boiled eggs, veggie and hummus dip, bake potato chips, and organically made items. Don’t forget to consider your vending beverages too! Skip the soda and offer naturally flavored water, teas, Kombucha, almond milk and coconut water.

Food will ALWAYS be a hot topic and it’s a good place to consider some welcome changes at your workplace. Give your employees some natural energy through healthy food and drinks so they can keep their eyes open during the 2 o’clock slump. They will thank you for it, and maybe you’ll see some positive changes in productivity, and how your employees feel about the way are you are supporting them.

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Topics: healthy work environment corporate wellness workplace wellness wellness programming corporate wellness programs happy employees Wellness in the Workplace

Using Wellness to Decrease Employee Turnover in Senior Living

NIFS | Employee Turnover | Employee WellnessTurnover in senior living is notoriously high for a number of reasons. One of the tools leadership can use to increase tenure for employees in community settings is offering balanced and thoughtful wellness programs. What follows are suggestions for how to elevate wellness in your corporate strategy so that your workforce understands you care about them beyond the day-to-day work they provide to keep the community running.

Employee wellness is about much more than a walking program.

How you position wellness in the organization can determine whether it sinks or swims. Physical health is only part of the picture. That's not to say you shouldn't offer a walking program. It can be a very simple way to help employees be more aware of how much they're moving during the day. But keep in mind that much of your community's staff members are on their feet most of the day serving the residents; a walking program for them may feel like "one more thing to do" in an already busy, service-oriented day. And giving everyone a wearable fitness tracker doesn't always communicate a "we care about you" message, either. The CNA scraping by on $12.50 an hour might rather have a small raise than a fancy wristband.

[Read More: Why Employee Purpose Could Be the Heart of Corporate Wellness]

Consider the health challenges across your workforce.

Your administrative/leadership team will have different obstacles in achieving good health compared to what you might see for your physical plant staff and nursing aides, and the community's approach to wellness needs and what it will take to address that range. The wearable/walking program I mentioned above is a good example of a well-intentioned offering that often falls flat for hourly staff. But, if you provide compensated exercise time for employees, you might be onto something in terms of a message that truly says, "We want to make it easy for you to live well."

Be careful if you intend to use biometric screenings and health risk assessments as the pillars of your wellness program. They have become hallmarks of a good "outcomes-based" wellness program in recent years, but that title may be misplaced. If you're just getting started on a wellness program for your community employees, it could be tempting to latch onto such screening tools as the place to begin. But there are challenges with these offerings that should not be glossed over.

Also keep in mind how important social determinants of health are for your workforce. The health habits that your crew practice at work are only part of the picture of how well they live. Where employees live can have a profound effect on their well-being. Access to healthy foods, reliable and convenient transportation, safe living environments, cultural norms and other issues have a strong influence for all of us on how they engage with healthy choices, and your workplace wellness program may be butting heads with those strong social factors. Maintaining realistic expectations about the ways your workforce can engage at work will help set your program on the right path.

Align your wellness strategy with the rest of your business strategy.

If your organization is already built on a model of caring for employees, infusing a message that you want to help employees live well should resonate positively. But if employees feel that the culture is punitive and as if their every move is being watched, "wellness" is quite likely going to sound like one more management hack designed purely to cut costs. Here are some suggestions for improving retention through a supportive relationship-based approach. You'll need to get the overarching company culture in place first before you add in a wellness component if you want your message about employee health to resonate with the staff.

Where to look next.

If you're more confused than ever about how to get an employee-centered wellness program off the ground for your workforce, you're not alone. The variable shifts, the wide range in roles (many of which are quite physical in nature), and the simultaneously gratifying and exhausting nature of the work you do, complicate how to both establish and deliver a wellness message and programming. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

  1. If you don't know what makes your employees tick, start by getting to know them a little better. They may have interests they could share with colleagues that would buoy the whole department or organization.
  2. Connect with employees working in a variety of settings across the community to find out what would help them feel supported to live well. You probably won't be able to execute on all of the ideas, but you will likely get suggestions you couldn't have imagined on your own.
  3. Start small and with the right messaging. (Hint: You can craft the right messaging when you have information from tip #1.) Always lead with words and actions that communicate a desire to help employees live well. If you say it in words and your actions don't align, employees won't engage.
  4. Learn from other similarly situated organizations. There are communities out there doing this work with their employees, and they can help you avoid some of the pitfalls they've already climbed out of.

It's not easy work, but don't let that stop you. Doing well for your employees helps them do right by your residents, and that's a community where everyone benefits. Need a little more information to get your wellness program started in the right direction? Check out the blog below.

Blog: doing corporate wellness for employees

Topics: senior living staffing wellness programs corporate wellness employee turnover

Why Wearable Fitness Trackers Aren't Your Wellness Program

ThinkstockPhotos-470428334.jpgConsidering how long it can take to make a global shift in corporate America, the rise of wearable fitness trackers in wellness has been meteoric. A recent study reports an anticipated 13M wearables will enter the corporate wellness market by 2018. Despite the rapid adoption of this technology by businesses for their employees, there remains healthy skepticism about what exactly is being measured and who is privy to that data.

It would be tempting, I think, for an employer to see wearable tech as the answer to their questions about how to have an employee wellness program. The devices are relatively inexpensive and generally easy to use. And many adults already use a device without it being connected to a corporate wellness program, so there is no introduction of something foreign to which the workforce must adapt.

But the easy answer isn't always the right answer. Here are three reasons why wearable fitness trackers aren't your wellness program.

1. It's not always about the numbers.

Despite the continued drumbeat for measurement, ROI, and quantifying value in wellness, providing opportunities for your employees to live well isn't always about the numbers. If you're offering a wellness program and your only goal is to save money on healthcare costs for the business, you're (dare I say) probably doing employee wellness for the wrong reasons.

Your employees are people—people with complicated and busy lives. If you want them to live well, you may want to rethink your desire to hook them up with a tracking device that's going to report on everything from steps to sleep. You might view it as a perk, while employees see it as more pressure.

If you insist on wearables in your wellness program, consider them as an option among many other tools your workforce can choose from to live well in ways that are meaningful to them.

[Related Content: Why Employee Purpose might be the Heart of Corporate Wellness]

 

2. Like most programs under the corporate wellness banner, one size does not fit all.

If you're a fan of using a tracker personally, it may come as a surprise that they're not a good choice for everyone. Some people are quickly defeated by the constant barrage of information, so instead of serving as a device to motivate individuals, they have the opposite effect. Other people quickly turn to obsession with the data, constantly feeling like they need to do more, move more, sleep better, etc., to the exclusion of other more important activities (like work). As eloquently stated in this personal account, "...there is a fine line between health consciousness and a health obsession...."

While this study on wearables points to a 53% adoption rate for the under-40 employee crowd (note that the adoption rate for the over-50 employee group was at 36%) as a good thing, I'm left to wonder...what about the other 50+% of your workforce? If you insist on wearables in your wellness program, understand the potential reach as well as the potential concerns among your employees. Diversity in your offerings acknowledges the varied interests and passions of your employees.

3. High-tech has a place, but so does high-touch.

I've written about high-tech vs. high-touch in corporate wellness before. Wellness isn't an either/or proposition when you consider high-tech and high-touch options. You need sophisticated tech solutions to understand what is and isn't working in your wellness program. Still, there are limits to what technology can do for your business when it comes to helping employees live well.

For the employee who is caring for his parents who are aging in place with dementia, the wellness tracker does not get him more engaged at work or taking more steps; it only leaves him feeling more alone in his caregiving situation. It doesn't provide support for him while he struggles to figure out how he's going to get dinner to his parents and still make it to his son's baseball game. But if he has a relationship with the wellness manager (high-touch), he might open up about this personal situation. Then the wellness manager can help him find resources through the EAP or the local-area agency on aging.

***

Your amazing employees are complex and they need a variety of tools at their disposal to live well. Wearables aren't the answer; they're just a piece of the puzzle. Need to think outside the wearable option? Grab these seven ideas for how to make movement easy at work.

Looking to add exercise options to your corporate wellness offerings?  Check our out free download to help get you started!

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Topics: wearables technology fitness trackers corporate wellness ROI

Why Employee Purpose Could Be the Heart of Corporate Wellness

ThinkstockPhotos-492012688.jpgI know... "purpose" for your employees sounds all New Age-y or like some wellness vendor ploy to not have to put up numbers for a client. But the truth is, there is quite a bit of science behind the health benefits of individuals living with a sense of purpose. In fact, scientists attribute better pain management, longevity, and slower rates of cognitive decline to a sense of purpose in adults. For an outline of some of the research-based findings of the benefits of purpose, check out this article.

If you believe the research, you're left with a question about how to put it into practice. The answer may lie in understanding what you want for your employees. Sometimes genuine care and concern for employee well-being is the starting point for building a corporate wellness program, but it's easy to lose sight of that initial impetus, and very quickly the focus becomes the search for elusive metrics (and unicorns).

So maybe it's time to put the employees front and center (again) and make them the heart of corporate wellness. Here are some simple ways you can do that with purpose at the core of what you offer in your programming:

  • Allow for volunteering: There are health benefits for individuals who volunteer on a regular basis. But with the schedules we keep (much of which is tied up in demands for our jobs), who has time to give back? Employers can make it a little easier for employees to make their world a better place by building service days into the PTO policy.
  • Recognize that your staff members are more than who you see at work: Supervisors have a heavy responsibility to build and sustain an engaged workforce. One giant leap toward fostering a positive and healthy work environment that leads to engagement is by supervisors getting to know their employees. I don't mean you have to start hosting happy hours and cookouts. What you can easily start doing, however, is using your one-on-one meetings as an opportunity to listen for what makes your staff tick, and then look for opportunities to speak to those passions.
  • Turn the traditional incentives into incentives to give: Corporate fitness programs are full of incentive programs and challenges that are designed to creatively invite employees to move more for the potential to win some kind of prize at the end of the event. Consider swapping out those traditional program prizes for an opportunity to turn minutes exercising into money for a cause.

Imagine that you're the employee who works for the company that makes good on its promise to deliver all three of the experiences listed above. How do you feel about coming to work? How do you talk about your employer to friends and family? How do you process competitive offers to change jobs when they come your way?

Considering employee purpose as a central pillar in your corporate wellness program isn't just a nice idea; it's the right thing to do for the well-being and motivation of your employees and your business.

Get our whitepaper below for 5 tips to maximize employee engagement in your program.

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Topics: corporate wellness motivation employee purpose volunteering, incentives

Three Tips for Improving Your Corporate Fitness Program

ThinkstockPhotos-186871442.jpgCorporate fitness programs in businesses all across the country have been doing pretty much the same thing, quite possibly for decades. The programs look very different, one from the next, but the basic premise is the same.

  • Employer: "We want you to be healthy. Here's [insert your corporate fitness answer here: a gym membership, group fitness classes, walking paths, an onsite corporate fitness center, etc.] for you to use. Go be active (when you're not working).
  • Employee: "I'd love to start exercising, but I don't know what's safest and most effective for me. Plus, I don't have much time, and clearly, I have work quotas to meet. It's great that the company offers these healthy options, but it doesn't seem like the right fit for me."

Read Now: Why Corporate Fitness Needs to Evolve

There's a real risk in corporate fitness that we only ever reach the folks who would be active regardless of whether there was a corporate fitness program. So the challenge for businesses becomes how to reach employees who are interested in exercising but who don't know where to begin. Get your organization started in the right direction with these three tips for improving your corporate fitness program.

Tip 1: Get the staffing right.

Finding the right staff to support your corporate fitness offerings is crucial to the success of the program. As an organization that provides this very service to businesses all over the country, we’ve written extensively on the topic. It’s no surprise that we think outsourcing your fitness staff is a great choice. However, if your fitness center staffing style is more of a DIY approach, definitely consider the tips in this blog, 3 Tips for Hiring an Active Aging or Corporate Fitness Professional.

Tip 2: Offer the right services.

There are core services that should be in place for a corporate fitness program to be successful:

  • Individual education through exercise prescriptions and fitness assessment and testing is essential. Both of these services, which can easily be provided by your qualified staff, provide a fantastic foundation to the employees who are fence-sitters about exercise—you know, the employees who want to try moving more but who aren't sure how to get started safely. Those are the very same employees you're trying to draw into the program; addressing their concerns and questions with tailored services is a great way to show them that the door to starting an exercise program at work is wide open.

Alternative to Personal Training -- Read More!

  • Incentive programs can help keep the fitness program interesting and are a fantastic way to help employees reach for better health beyond physical fitness. We've written about several of our successful incentives programs; click any of the titles below to find out more.

Employee Wellness Programming Beyond the Corporate Fitness Center

Making Fitness Fun in Corporate Wellness

Increasing Participation with SKELETONE

A Simple Way to Boost Participation in Your Corporate Fitness Center

How a Simple Squat Challenge Improved Corporate Fitness Metrics

Tip 3: Ask the right questions.

Anecdotal feedback and thank-you emails provide periodic indications of whether your fitness staff is on the right track with employees. But there's nothing like concrete bulk survey feedback to help steer a program in the right direction. Sure, there are problems with surveys, but in our decades of experience with managing corporate fitness centers, we increasingly find surveys to be a very helpful tool for setting our management strategy for each client. Here's how we use them:

  • We use them for specific programs to determine whether we're achieving goals with those programs. For more on our evaluation methods, check out this blog: 4 Keys to Getting Wellness Program Data You Can Actually Use.
  • From a program satisfaction standpoint, we've found surveys to be quite helpful as well. While the anonymity of them can sometimes leave our staff open to very negative feedback, the vast majority of responses are constructive and quite helpful for us in determining what our next year of program and service spotlights should be.

Want to learn more about how to make effective use of surveys to improve your corporate fitness program? Download our whitepaper.

Implement surveys to initiate change

Topics: corporate fitness data staffing exercise prescriptions fitness assessment incentives corporate wellness participation feedback surveys CORP Programs and Services

How to change bad habits

making a list

Bad habits often compromise a healthy lifestyle. No matter what your bad habit is, you can tackle it by identifying your weaknesses changing your mind’s focus.  Take a moment and use these tips on how to change bad habits.

Identifying Bad Habits

First, identify your bad habits and what keeps you from changing them:

  • Make a list of your good and bad habits. Recognize those habits you would like to change.
  • Organize a plan when cravings for bad habits return. Know how you will handle these cravings. If possible, try to avoid them.
  • Recognize the barriers that will keep you from changing your bad habits. Avoid situations and people that will cause you to resort to performing your bad habits.

Break the Cycle and Change Your Behavior

Depending on what your bad habit is, a number of tricks can help you break the cycle. For example:

  • Avoid using food or other substances (smoking, drinking, etc.) to comfort yourself. Instead, use other, less damaging techniques such as listening to soothing music or chewing gum.
  • Avoid sugary drinks. Keep bottles of water at home and at work. If you don’t like drinking plain water, try flavored, but make sure you select a low- or no-sugar option.
  • If you just can’t stop slouching, set a timer on your watch for every few minutes. Use the alarm as a reminder to check your posture and sit or stand up straight. Keep lengthening the time intervals as you get better at keeping your posture a priority.

What bad habit do you plan to kick?  

Interested in helping your employees make healthy habits?  Download our whitepaper to learn how to incorporate exercise into your wellness program for employees. 

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Topics: nutrition corporate wellness behavior modification employee wellness

Why Corporate Fitness Needs to Evolve (Like Corporate Wellness)

The elements that make up corporate fitness haven’t changed much in the almost 20 years I’ve been connected to the business. We’re still working hard to attract as many employees as possible to our programs, we’re still running fun, lighthearted games, we’re still tracking memberships, and we’re still helping employees with their exercise programs through prescription and assessment services. Group fitness is still a staple, and you still typically see corporate fitness centers with staff only in larger businesses.

Sure, equipment has changed, and there are a ton of new (albeit not necessarily better) certifications available for practitioners. Big players have more bells and whistles to win new business, but the core elements that make up a sound corporate fitness program for your employees are the same as they were years ago.

Corporate Wellness, However, Is in Flux

And yet, corporate wellness as a broader header under which corporate fitness sits has changed dramatically over the last decade. It’s still in significant flux. While the somewhat dated biometric screening and health risk assessments are still fundamental in many corporate wellness initiatives, they are losing popularity. As businesses look past the limited utility of those elements, they are turning toward opportunities to educate their employees into becoming better health care consumers as well as looking toward creative outlets for stress management along with getting back to basics by meeting basic human needs.

So why, then, is corporate fitness still doing what it’s always done? Can corporate fitness partners be part of the wellness evolution by offering solutions beyond the typical elements outlined above?

How NIFS Is Offering Evolved SolutionsThinkstockPhotos-512169680_1.jpg

We think so. Here are some of the ways we’re doing just that:

  • Personal training has a niche market; it’s the people who benefit from it and who can also afford it. We work with clients who have a lot of employees that can’t afford the luxury of a personal trainer. Rather than tell them they’re on their own, we built Personal Fitness Quest to meet that very real need. Here’s how that alternative to personal training works for us.
  • Where clients have allowed it, our staff have stocked and promoted activity centers. These simple nooks, typically carved out of high-traffic areas like the cafeteria, provide a small space were employees can take a break and focus their minds on something other than their work. They can realize the stress-relieving benefits of coloring, play their teammates in Jenga®, or listen to a relaxation meditation on an MP3 player.
  • Our staff are capital-S serious about their work; they believe completely in what they’re doing to help improve the health of the employees with whom they work. But sometimes work is a little too serious, and we understand our role is to provide a light and welcoming environment. Employees need to feel understood, and they need a place to decompress. Some days they just need a good laugh. Check out how one of our managers put a laughable spin on the benefits of being a chicken.

Corporate fitness would benefit from the lessons that old-school corporate wellness is feeling by evolving into a service that promotes holistic well-being, perhaps with an emphasis on fitness. How are you promoting more than just exercise in your corporate fitness program?

Looking for more on what can make your fitness program tick? Use the button below to download our quick read with three tips for a successful corporate fitness center.

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Topics: corporate fitness corporate wellness NIFS personal training stress group fitness corporate fitness centers

Resolve to Do Corporate Wellness Better in 2016

The debate in corporate wellness:

Last year I spent a lot of time reading about current debates in corporate wellness. There are two vocal camps (albeit vocal in very different ways):

  • The camp that publicly proclaims we must soldier on with the health risk assessments, the biometric screenings, the weight-loss challenges, and the “cost sharing” of health insurance with employees. That camp is mostly plugging their ears at (and not responding to) the questions from the other camp.
  • The camp that keeps asking that pesky “why” question. But they’re not asking “why” like a toddler who presses on, and on, an on without purpose. Those in that second camp are asking why we must persist with corporate wellness practices that don’t work.

Some in the industry rise above the fighting to offer their long-held positions that are alternatives to more traditional corporate wellness. Check out the work being done by Rosie Ward and Jon Robinson at Salveo Partners, or Bob Merberg’s Health Shifting blog for some insights.

An alternative view:

I admire their work and their passion. I offer my own considerations here based on a blog I read focused on well-being for caregivers of the elderly. (Half of my work life is spent focused on health and fitness services in senior living communities.) The blog is about how The Eden Alternative assesses well-being, the dimensions they use, and how they apply them to their employees and those they serve.

Traditional wellness uses areas like physical, intellectual, and occupational wellness to map out how an individual is experiencing well-being in their lives. The Eden Alternative instead looks at identity, connectedness, autonomy, security, meaning, growth, and joy.

How does the worksite look if we build a corporate wellness strategy around optimizing those elements for employees? Here are three areas to consider.

What are the ways we cultivate and sustain connectedness for staff?dv1180018.jpg

This is about more than your break room, or your subsidized healthy foods in the company cafeteria. This isn’t really related to your corporate IT policies for use of social media. But the answer(s) to this question could be about establishing policies that allow employees to provide family support in caregiving roles under reasonable circumstances. Or it could be about establishing a well-thought-out mentoring program at your company.

How are we communicating and following through on areas of autonomy for employees?

No one really likes to feel like they don’t have control over a particular area of their lives, and studies show that lacking autonomy at work can increase stress. If your micromanaging, timekeeping structure has employees taking bathroom breaks in shifts and feeling chained to their desks, it might be time to rethink how you can improve this area of your workplace culture. In a call-center environment, highly scheduled time on the phones is central to business success, and while you can’t change that paradigm, you can invite your team into building the schedule. They’re smart (or you wouldn’t have hired them, right?), so they might have productivity-increasing, autonomy-boosting ideas that you can actually put into practice.

Do we provide opportunities for our crew to engage in work that’s meaningful?

Not everyone has the good fortune to work day in, and day out, in a job they love. And there’s a decent chance that some of the people on your team are in that tough spot. Maybe you can restore a little meaning in their career by providing opportunities for them to engage in a passion through their work. The catch here is that you have to know your employees well enough to know what they’re passionate about. Start with that discussion and see where the ideas lead you. Establishing a day of service might spark enough enthusiasm for some (“I don’t LOVE my job, but the company I work for is solid”). Others might benefit from a mentoring experience to move into a new role with the organization.

You may have noticed that a lot of this alternative approach boils down to building relationships with colleagues. It’s a scary thing—getting to know your staff. But the rewards for individual well-being are far greater than we could get from any health assessment report or biometric screening. When we’re struggling (so much) with true employee engagement in corporate wellness, we need to step back and look at what we’re inviting them into. If it’s not meaningful, if it doesn’t add value (and I don’t mean money) to an employee’s life, why would they engage?

Change is hard—no one really likes change. But this might be a change your employees can get behind. So what do you think? Are you resolved to do better in 2016?

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Topics: corporate wellness stress productivity