Here’s another thing I’ve had on my mind since the PARMA 2014 conference — running with the herd, especially when it comes to your wellness program. In his keynote speech, Ross Shafer addressed this concept of “running with the herd” more than once. It generally means give the people what they want. And that is something we as risk managers and wellness managers typically don’t do.
Personally, there are very few wellness programs that I get really jazzed about and I am not alone. Don’t think I am alone, then explain why most wellness programs are considered successful if they get 20% of their employee population to participate. And why two-thirds of Americans are overweight.
Here’s a few reasons why I am not a fan of most wellness programs and possibly some insight to help you “run with the herd.”
I Came To Work To Work
My work day is already between 10 and 12 hours long due to commute times and all those pressing issues that need to be handled by tomorrow. Adding an extra hour to my workday just doesn’t seem appealing. When I worked at world-renowned Mutual of Omaha, they had a great wellness program. You could work out anytime of day and your boss never uttered the words — you owe me an hour. The company culture supported fitness and that makes a big difference. If you are starting a wellness program make sure to get buy-in from the top. And the worst part is that when I get home I still have to walk the dog.
My Gym Is Better Than Your Gym
I spend $200 a month on gym memberships for my wife and I. The gym is top-notch, offering a sauna, jacuzzi, swimming pool, all the weights you can imagine, private locker, towel & laundry service and it smells nice. What does your gym offer? Most wellness programs I see in schools and colleges consist of 20 year-old fitness equipment, if they are so lucky. The workout seats/benches aren’t wiped down after use. Their is a smell that permeates the locker room and workout facility that could knock over a buffalo. Before you start your program you need to ask yourself, why do people want to work out here versus Ballys, Gold’s, 24 Hour Fitness, or the high-end Spectrum? The Chancellor of High Point University illustrated this point in an interview with Darren Hardy of Success Magazine. He said that his number one priority is the condition of the facilities, which leads to people taking pride in their education and in the place they learn and live.
Healthy Food Doesn’t Really Taste Good
My wife makes me eat healthy every night and I always go to bed with a hole in my stomach. Lunchtime is the time I sneak out and eat a hearty meal so I can make it thru the rest of my day. Adding more carrots and lettuce to my diet doesn’t entice me. I never feel full when I eat all healthy foods and then I am distracted all day at work looking for something to eat. What I really want is to eat foods I like in moderation. When wellness programs provide information and guidance on selecting the right foods and explain what “moderation” means for each food everyone wins.
Don’t Look At Me
Here’s another reason people don’t like to workout at work. Their co-workers will see “too” much of them. If you already have a self-image issue the last thing you want to do is dress down in front of people you respect and admire. Or worse yet, in front of people you manage.
How Do I Do That
Fitness is a science. And sciences needs to be explained because what you think is a good idea isn’t always a good idea. Like eating too little all the time puts the body into “fat-storage mode” instead of shred the pounds.
One aspect that company wellness programs often fail to offer is a physical fitness trainer. Most first-time gym goers don’t really understand what all the machines do or what exercises to do to achieve their goals. Should I lift more weight? Should I do more reps? Should I work all these machines today? Hiring a fitness trainer to help people understand their goals and how to achieve them can keep people on track and enthused about the program.
I’m Not Seeing Results
Not seeing results is a big problem and it typically stems from the issues described in “How do I do that?” I need to see results, even if they are small. And I need to see them week after week. Without seeing the results all the effort seems for not and that can put an quick end to my working out. Your fitness program should explain what results are expected, how to measure them, and that they aren’t always in the form of building muscle or losing weight. Sometimes endurance and overall strength may be just the result I am looking for.
There’s No Community
Beach Bodies has done a fantastic job at creating community. So does Facebook, LinkedIn, Nike, and other great brands. Sharing your successes and your difficulties is the glue that binds us together. Publicly announcing our goals and our “do-it” statements means that we have to live up to them. Without a way for everyone in the company to share their fitness achievements, there’s no community and you are left feeling all alone. When your racing against other people you go farther, faster and harder. Good fitness and wellness programs build a sense of community — how will you build yours?
Run With The Herd
Whether you like it or not, the above represents common issues facing employers when they implement a fitness or wellness program. If you want to build a successful program, then you have to do as Ross Shafer says and give the people what they want. If you do that, you might just find that you have 80% participation, lower claims and a happier workforce.