Don’t include employee needs/input in program creation
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in creating an employee wellness program is to base it on what you think your employee needs are. If your assumptions miss the mark, program attendance will be low and participants won’t get much out of it. Instead, include employees in the planning process, whether it’s by polling them for their needs and interests or having an employee wellness committee.
Make it a one-off
My pet peeve! One-off programs simply cannot provide effective support. Think about it: if your employees are experiencing burnout after months of endless long hours, piles of work, short staffing, and no end in site, is one webinar going to fix it? No. In this situation, it’s putting a bandaid on a broken arm. At worst, it looks like lip service and a half-hearted attempt at appeasement. It feels like management heard the grievances, but doesn’t really care. And in that atmosphere, a program cannot be effective. Instead, your employee wellness program should and must be a holistic, multifaceted approach, a true investment in employee well-being.
Don’t include enough variety
“We’re thrilled to announce 12 hour-long webinars on healthy eating.” What was your reaction to that statement? Probably short of excitement. If your program is too monotonous, it might start out with good attendance, but it will drop off drastically as the program progresses. While health and wellness are complex topics that definitely could require multiple sessions on one topic, we have to consider the human attention span in our planning as well. You can absolutely dedicate multiple sessions to one topic, but be sure to include a mix of other offerings to appeal to different styles and interests. For example, instead of just webinars, include some fitness classes and cooking demos.
The health and wellness industry has a major exclusivity problem. And I have witnessed and heard about many instances in which employees were made to feel “othered,” excluded, shamed, and insulted because of a program’s content or presenter. Part of your planning should include options for all bodies and abilities. It should also include thoroughly vetting your providers – it’s an unfortunate truth that fatshaming, homophobia, racism, and sexism are rampant in the fitness and nutrition industries. Do your due diligence to make sure there is something for everyone and that everyone is treated with respect.
These employee wellness mistakes can make or break your program. However, with care and planning, you can avoid them and create a fantastic, effective program.
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