Creating a Culture of Wellness

Wellness Culture | Workplace Wednesday |

Happy.  Healthy.  Profitable.  This is the goal of organizations.  If employees are healthy and happy the business will in turn be more profitable.  In a study published by Health Affairs, researchers found that medical costs for the organization fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs and that absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar.  What organization doesn’t want that?

To that end many employers implement wellness programs.  Which is great, but you fail to create a true culture of wellness you will most certainly face many challenges.  Participation in initiatives will not be strong and employees may resist changes in their lifestyle behavior.  The result is you just spent a bunch of money on a wellness program and you did not reap any of the benefits.

What does a culture of wellness look like?  It may look like the CEO taking time to workout at lunch – visible to employees.  It might look like suggested stretching breaks (replacing the outdated smoking breaks) for all employees led by leaders and managers.  Or it might look like employees being encouraged to schedule workouts on their calendar and supported to keep those appointments.  It all works together to create a culture of wellness.

Here are 5 ways you can being to create a culture of wellness in your organization today.

Lead by Example

Leaders need to take care of themselves.  You need to move your body and put good things in.  You might think about planning your own workouts where you can be visible to others.  You can lead by example and order healthy options for meetings.  Leaders don’t need to be perfect, but you should be mindful of your own choices and back the organization’s effort to support happy and healthy employees.

Show you Care

One of the leading drivers of engagement in workplace activities is whether or not employees believe that their leaders care. To show you care about wellness, you should continually:

  • Show concern for employees’ fitness and nutrition.  This could be as simple as asking the question and being interested in what the employee is doing both at work and at home.  Are they training for a race?  Do they have a hike planned for the weekend?  What is their favorite healthy snack?
  • Communicate the importance of wellness and how it will personally benefit them.  Do your employees know that there is a direct correlation between working out and feeling happy?  Do they know that the more fit they are the more productive they become?  And not just at work, these benefits follow them everywhere.  Let them know what is in it for them!
  • Introduce and align workplace practices and policies to enhance wellness.  Encourage your employees to be involved in the activities offered or at the very least encourage your employees to get up and stand at least 5 minutes of every hour.


Invest in Wellness

Show your employees that you care by investing financially in programs that support wellness.

Here are just a few investments you could make:

  • Physical fitness programs, classes, and club memberships
  • Health education and information
  • Health screenings and assessments
  • Wellness activities (screenings, vaccinations, etc.)
  • Targeted programs (tobacco cessation, chronic disease prevention/management, etc.)
  • On-site or telephonic wellness coaching
  • Healthy food options and snacks

Similarly, clear communication and promotion of these offerings is imperative. Employees must know what options are available to them to assist them in their well-being.


Eliminate Barriers

Most employees want to genuinely improve their quality of life and develop a healthier lifestyle, but their leading barriers are time and money.  You can eliminate these barriers and give employees more time to devote to improving their well-being.  Can you be flexible with their work hours to provide time for fitness?  Could you provide more convenient access to resources?  Are there things you can do for free for employees?  Become the solution and not the barrier to the wellness of your employees.


Be Open

Simply opening up a dialogue and conversation throughout the organization about wellness issues (such as physical fitness, nutrition, work/life balance, etc.) helps keep wellness top of mind.  This will foster a culture of wellness and may help facilitate the exchanging of ideas, success stories, and support about wellness.  Feel free to share your own struggles with wellness and be sure to ask and listen to theirs.



Developing a culture of wellness is far more beneficial than simply developing a wellness program.  Take time to build a culture and the benefits to employees and the organization will multiply.  The wellness culture you build will help you create a happy, healthy and profitable organization.

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