When it comes to corporate wellness, "timing is everything" is an accurate phrase. If a company puts together an excellent wellness program with awesome promotion, but employees simply are focused on something else, how can strides be made towards better health?
New research boils down to something that makes total sense: Spring is the best time for corporate wellness.
Why is wellness most effective in the spring?
First of all, people already have momentum to improve their health, lifestyle or whatever it may be. This momentum comes from New Year's resolutions, Lenten promises and just the all-consuming idea that a new year can mean a new start. At this time of year, people constantly are thinking of ways to become better at something. Corporate wellness can ride this momentum and be a vehicle by which employees can improve their health.
Second, the world is looking forward. At the beginning of spring, people shake off the winter cold and become excited about the better weather that comes with the new season. This better weather not only improves morale, but also presents companies with an excellent opportunity when it comes to employee wellness.
Spring weather makes it easier to promote outdoor activities, such as being part of a community-supported agriculture or garden program; going to farmers markets for fresh, local produce; joining summer sports leagues; working on that beach body; walking or biking to work; and so much more. The best wellness activities take place outdoors. Employee wellness programs definitely can take advantage of that fact.
Finally, the world has made it past the winter holidays. Obviously, there are other holidays throughout the year, but from about November until the start of the new year, it's very easy to set healthy habits aside. The focus usually is on sweets, shopping, turkey and wine – none of which will be helpful on a journey toward better health. In the spring, the holiday season is over and those unhealthy habits won't be sneaking up for many months to come.
Use Spring To Your Advantage
How can companies take advantage of this awesome season of wellness?
There are a ton of ways to use spring to your advantage throughout the first half of the year. Before thinking about wellness promotion, however, there's one important thing to consider: Are companies starting new wellness programs? Or are they looking to improve current programs?
Either option is just fine, as long as steps are being taken to improve employee health. Before promoting wellness, companies really need to look at what's going on internally. This is highly effective when employee feedback is used before deciding on a plan of attack for health and wellness.
Whether starting fresh or revamping an old program, the strengths of the season still can help out. These promotion tips can be used to really get employees excited about making healthy choices all year long.
Keeping Up with Resolutions
Companies can offer wellness programs as a means to keep up with resolutions. It might even be helpful to survey employees and find common resolutions like weight loss or decreased stress. As spring turns to summer, people lose motivation to strive towards these goals. A wellness program is a perfect outlet to help them focus on the original goal and renew their motivation.
Focusing on individual goals – Employees have all sorts of individual goals. It's important that a wellness program is broad or customizable so employees see it as a tool to reach their goals. Some programs offer discounted gym memberships, healthy cookbooks and lunchtime walking groups. All of these things can be used by employees to reach a variety of individual goals, including weight loss, reduced stress and a healthy diet.
Using the weather – Spring weather can be an absolute advantage to any corporate wellness program. Companies can get a jump on the beautiful weather to come by offering a community-supported agriculture or garden program, seeking out spring and summer sports leagues or even organizing walk- or bike-to-work days. People's excitement about getting outdoors can inspire them to sign up for these types of wellness activities, even if the activity itself isn't until later.
No matter what method of wellness promotion a company uses, it's important to actively communicate it and keep the program on the front of employees' minds (right behind their work duties, of course).
It also is necessary to communicate in a way to which employees can relate. Analyses of Google search trends show that most people don't tend to use the word "wellness." People use words like "health," "fitness" and "diet" more often. So, corporate wellness programs should do the same. For the best results, companies should embed these words in positive messages. Positivity has been shown to provide longer-lasting motivation for improvement.
Ultimately, when it comes to health and wellness, timing really is everything. Many employee wellness providers promote their programs throughout open enrollment. That tends to be a time when people are more focused on food than on fitness. For a program to have the best chance at success, wellness managers should ride the health wave that rolls in every spring. Companies need to take advantage of this brighter season, be a wellness resource for their employees and actively communicate about their program throughout the first half of the year.
Alan Kohll is founder and president of corporate health and wellness solutions provider TotalWellness. Contact him at [email protected] and follow TotalWellness on LinkedIn and Twitter.