What are the latest corporate fitness programs, trends and strategies that work? In CIO magazine, James Martin’s article 6 corporate wellness and fitness strategies for 2017 reports on what he learned at a recent Fitbit Captivate wellness conference. The events are sponsored by Fitbit to provide HR professionals with “the inspiration and tools they need to implement engaging, effective wellness programs that drive great company culture and business performance.”

Among the ideas he discusses, first and foremost is focus. Martin notes that many program goals are broad and rather amorphous: ‘do this for your health.” He suggests more concrete messaging that taps into an employee’s concrete goals rather than a more general message of “getting healthy.” We agree: every individual’s reason for engaging is specific. An employee’s goal might be to lose weight for a special upcoming occasion like a vacation or a daughter’s wedding; it might be to exercise more or run in a marathon to coincide with a landmark birthday, such as reaching age 40 or 50; or it might be tied to a health scare, their own or a family member’s. At TotalCare Wellness, we believe in the importance of a comprehensive employee wellness communication program harnessing multiple media and tailoring frequent messages to a wide spectrum of potential motivations. We find that when employees work to their own concrete goals, the goals are more achievable and success fosters continued engagement. When goals are too broad, they often fail. Our wellness coaching helps employees set and achieve their own custom wellness goals, large or small.

Another key idea that surfaced at the conference was the importance of getting buy-in from the CEO. In our experience, CEO involvement is a critical factor in virtually every successful corporate initiative. Goals that start at the top and have passionate champions in the senior ranks yield the best results. When it comes to transforming an organization to a culture of health and wellness, we encourage senior managers to talk the talk and walk the walk. Define wellness as a corporate value, and reinforce it at all company meetings; tie specific goals into managerial performance reviews.

Martin notes that attendees agree that proving ROI is still tricky, but that the ultimate goal is (and we think should be) to help employees ‘bring their best selves to work.’ Plus, in addition to the many positives, corporate wellness programs can also offer solutions for some age-old issues that often pose serious threats to employee productivity: stress, smoking, and substance abuse, to name a few. Wellness is a natural adjunct to an organizations employee assistance program, or EAP.


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