How Sweet It Is: Workplace Wellness at Mars Inc.

April 6, 2017
Jason Morgan, senior manager for global health and wellbeing at Mars Inc., says wellness programs often fail because companies focus on having the “latest and greatest” rather than centering on how much support the initiative is getting from workers and leadership.

Corporate wellness programs are on the rise as company leaders begin to recognize the benefits of preventative health initiatives to both productivity and health care costs.

In a Q&A with EHS Today, Jason Morgan, manager of global health and wellbeing at Mars Inc., tells readers why wellness programs are crucial to a healthier, higher-performing workforce.

Stefanie Valentic, EHS (EHS Today):  Why is workplace wellness important to a company?

Jason Morgan (Morgan): A wellness program ultimately can help associates create and sustain healthy behaviors, giving them more energy, leading to greater productivity and higher performance. If you look only at costs (indirect and direct), it makes sense to try and establish healthy behaviors and environments with your associates. Healthier associates generally experience greater energy, higher productivity and fewer medically-related absences, all of which can result in significant cost savings to the company.

However, workplace wellness goes beyond that. Wellness programs and healthy environments can help improve morale and energy, as well as help in the recruitment and retention of associates. Associates see wellness programs and healthy environments as a sign that leadership supports their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. The associate is then more likely to stay and grow with the company.

EHS Today: What components make up an effective workplace wellness program?

Morgan: An effective workplace wellness program should have strong leadership support and engagement, environments that foster and support healthy behaviors (i.e. healthy options in the cafeterias and vending machines, work spaces that promote and encourage movement; areas for associates to recover mentally and emotionally and programs that address holistic wellbeing (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual). 

It’s important to first focus on the leadership and environment aspects because without supportive leadership and an environment that supports healthy behaviors, programs will struggle to be sustainable or successful.

EHS Today: How do you get workers to participate in these programs and stick with them? 

Morgan: We use a variety of different communication strategies (i.e. email, message boards, leadership communications, and mobile messaging). We also leverage gamification, leadership participation, and team based programs. When a leader is engaged and participating, it increases our engagement and participation by almost 55 percent. Associates see their line manager participate and feel like it’s okay to participate themselves.

We also leverage technology and a wellbeing platform that allows associates to access the program no matter where they’re located via a mobile app. The app comes available with all of the same features as the desktop/laptop version. This makes tracking (via fitness device integration) easier and more fun.

EHS Today: What kinds of fitness activities and incentives work best with employees?

Morgan: I find that team-based fitness programs yield the best engagement. In addition to helping increase engagement, it also helps sustain engagement. Team-based fitness programs also help build team morale. Team challenges where you try to walk or run a certain distance provide a little extra fun as well. 

We also provide individual-based programs based on interest. For example, if you’re looking to train for a 5k or other type of race, or if you have certain other goals that you would like to achieve, we have fitness professionals that will help you. 

As for incentives, this becomes a little harder to due various laws, etc. Premium reductions have proven to be effective in driving engagement, but don’t always help to create behavior change. Gift cards, merchandise and discounts to area attractions or online stores have also been received well.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!