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Integrated Workplace Wellness Solutions

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Strategies for Wellness at Work

Culture Change – What to Measure for Success

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“We get great engagement!”  How often have you seen reports or data showing the number of people participating in an initiative or program, and using that as the measurement of success?  But there is usually little to no data about long-term results. Are you paying for employee support resources that never actually drive long-term positive change?  It’s more than engagement numbers.

A little history:

  • Bad Stress in the Workplace - Stress management workshops and lunch and learns have been around at least as far back as the 1980s.  However, all the current reports about work culture show that the workforce is more stressed, not less. And not good stress.  Something didn’t work.

  • Healthy Weight Programs – How many diet programs have been in the marketplace over the past 40+ years?  How many weight loss programs have your brought in? If any of these programs were the silver bullet, wouldn’t the solution be used by places like the Mayo Clinic?  

  • Biometric Screenings – Going back 20+ years, the wisdom has been if you know your numbers you will change your behavior. To date, there is no solid evidence that the vast majority of people that do a biometric screening at work make any real long-term change. Biometric screenings can be expensive and end up not getting you any real benefit for the vast majority of your employees that participate. Knowing your numbers is not enough.

  • Challenges with Incentives – Challenges that “pay” are another approach that has been out in the marketplace for decades.  Unfortunately extrinsic incentives only work as long as the person is receiving them. And some of your workforce doesn’t want one more thing to do.  They have enough on their plate. They need support, not a contest. A “game” is only fun if you see it as helpful or an enhancement to your life, not an additional task to complete.

  • Wellness is all about Staying Active and Eating Healthy – All good, but doesn’t address all the “whys’ that impact health and wellbeing.  Examples: I work two desk jobs to pay my bills. I live in a place with no grocery stores or stores that don’t stock affordable healthy food options.  I’m a caretaker to aging parents, children or both. A 10K a day program or a class on eating more veggies doesn’t solve for any of those things. Too many well-intentioned programs don’t address the most pressing pain point for an employee.

  • Diversity and Inclusion – Many organizations have affinity groups but no strategy around intentional inclusion.  There is no meaningful increase in the number of people from diversity backgrounds in top management or in the leadership pipeline.

  • Sexual Harassment Training – Again, another training that has been in the workplace for decades.  Well intentioned, but has not helped create an environment where both women and men can be at their best. This type of training hasn’t helped bridge the gender gap in the workplace or specifically cut down on sexually harressment in any meaningful way.

So what can be done?

First: take the time to analyze your workforce, your culture and the resources your organization has in place that are meant to support your teams:

  • How are employees utilizing all the resources that are there to support them throughout the year?

  • How many of the resources you pay for are being integrated vs. each one sitting in a silo?  

  • What cultures are within your culture (demographics/geography)?

  • What pain points exist for frontline employees, middle management, the HR/Benefits team and senior leaders.   Are any common at all levels and which ones are specific to each group?

  • Review how all resources are communicated and how effective that’s been in employees understanding when and how to get to the resource they need.  

Knowing what is working, what isn’t, and where the gaps are can help save time and money. That information can give the company a baseline and a clearer path to measuring success.

Second: take a look at who in your organization is tasked with overseeing the overall culture of the organization.  

  • Are they experienced enough to clearly show the financial case of working on culture change to leadership?

Third: leadership needs to ask…

  • Is it realistic to expect that one or two people can achieve visible results in one year with no team and no real background in strategic organizational change?

  • Can needed change happen if there is no strategy, project plan or budget?

Knowing what you need to be measuring means analyzing where you are today.  It means taking a hard look at what resources are worth the money and time you are investing and those that are not.  It means looking at all the programs, resources and initiatives that support employees as a whole, not separately.

All of your employee resources are meant to support a more thriving workforce.  If there is no understanding of how they integrate and work together, often it’s money poorly spent and there is no real way to measure success and how it connects back to the bottom line.   

Once you have the information you need to understand where you are today, you can:

  • Build a culturally specific strategy

  • Design an actionable project plan

  • Have a clear understanding of what you need to measure and why.  

By taking this approach, an organization can more strategically impact employee engagement and decrease levels of burnout. It can help move towards a workforce culture that is resilient and can drive better innovation.  That is success you can measure.


About the Author

Mim Senft is the founder of Motivity Partnerships a workplace wellness consultancy that offers an integrated solution with vetted wellness partners that work for your culture and your team. She has over 20 years of corporate experience in project management, benefits design and wellness program strategy and implementation.  She is a certified as a Worksite Wellness Specialist through the National Wellness Institute; has her GBA group benefits designation through the International Foundation of Benefit Professionals (IFEBP); her property and casualty insurance certification, Accredited Advisor in Insurance (AAI), through the Insurance Institute of America; and became a certified yoga instructor in 2006.  Mim is a regular speaker at conferences and roundtable discussions on topics related to employee benefits, corporate wellness/wellbeing programs, and keeping a competitive edge in today’s workplace. Mim Senft is also a co-founder of Global Women 4 Wellbeing (GW4W), a non-profit that empowers more healthy female leadership at all levels.