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Dr Gary Tho
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Dr Gary Tho is the owner of Chiropractic Works, a Family Sports and Wellness clinic in Orchard and Tanjong Pagar in Singapore. He specialises in pain relief and high performance for individuals and organisations. He believes being be your best self requires a strong Mind, Body and Tribe.

Dr Gary is also the author of The Pain-Free Desk Warrior, Free yourself from aches and pains which is the definitive guide for those stuck at their desk for more than 2 hours a day.

Chiropractic Works

February 05, 2018

3 Best Practices That Define a Successful Wellness Program

Presenteeism is at an all time high. People are not motivated by money alone. Because of that, wellness initiatives running parallel with other strategies to improve corporate culture are defining the workplace of the future. Health and wellness programs have been tasked to improve engagement levels. Since employees are happier, healthier and more engaged with their organisation, job satisfaction, loyalty and work performance naturally follows.

Unfortunately, not all health and wellness programs are successful. The first one or two initiatives may gain traction, but one or two years on, and participation rates decline. One main problem is that the participants themselves aren’t part of the creation. Their needs and concerns aren’t addressed so there’s less motivation for them to commit. Here are 3 best practices that help create successful corporate wellbeing programs that gain true engagement.

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1.  Programs Are Doable, Accessible and Sustainable

Imagine a wellness program or fitness class is starting in 15 minutes. Many employees easily dismiss it and think "I'd love to go, but I really need to get this work done”. Do programs run when employees are most busy? Are they run after office hours? And if so, will people stay back for it? Is the wellness program a broad-based and holistic approach? Or is it just yoga classes, cooking demonstrations and nothing else?

Is it easy for participants to learn? What looks easy when a trained chef prepares a healthy dinner in 20 minutes could take the average person a lot more time, energy and stress. Are steps provided for one to implement the new habit, accomplish their goal and sustain the success? Do they have a focus group or peers to help them improve their health? Are there resources available so they learn in their own time? Do they have access to experts?

A comprehensive wellness initiative needs to offer a variety of scheduled programs that are broken down into achievable, sustainable habits that create a valuable outcome. Equally important is that employees can choose what they are interested in, and easily fit into their schedule.

 

2.  Wellness Is Integrated Into The Company's Structure

Choosing a healthier lifestyle and doing well at work shouldn’t feel like a tug-of-war. There needs to be integration of the wellness mindset in the company structure, and at all levels of the company. The CEO needs to believe and live it. So do the managers, and everyone below that. I’ve heard of companies who pay for gym memberships for their staff, which is great. However, when people are at the gym, do they get called back in to work before they are done?

Are meetings overrun, or scheduled last minute, which prevents someone from getting to the gym at lunch time? Do employees get to enjoy their lunch, and eat mindfully? Or is lunch often ordered as takeaway, so they can sit at their computer while eating?  Can employees leave promptly at the end of the day so they can indulge in other aspects of health - like improving family or social relationships, finding happiness in hobbies, having some ‘me’ or quiet time, getting home to cook a nutritious meal?

So which is more important? Giving employees their own time? Or work should come first? One popular solution is flexi-hours and remote working. These options allow people to get personal errands done instead of being physically in the office. It’s a great start though it does not necessarily promote or improve health, happiness or wellbeing.

 

3.  Broad-Based Wellness Programs Linked to Continued Support Programs

“Health” is not participating in a yoga or zumba class. Pilates classes are a great way to get employees exercising and strengthening their core muscles, however a six-pack does not equate to being healthy. Health is a complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being. So exercising and getting fit doesn’t mean you’re healthy.

Therefore, wellness programs aren’t all about offering fitness classes, free gym memberships or measuring BMI. They need to include a whole range of activities that improve the 6 aspects of great health: good movement, nutrition, relationships, body composition, self esteem and happiness.

Everyone knows they should exercise more, eat well or quit smoking. But they may not have a strategy, nor enough motivation to make those changes. Great engagement initiatives will demonstrate that the company does care about them. And their bosses and colleagues care. And that they too, should care about their own health. The question is how can health and care permeate through the entire organisation consistently enough to see changes and results?

Any wellness initiative, game or workshop also needs some form of continuation. Employee assistance programs (EAP) are common for mental health concerns, however there needs to be other support systems in place for other health concerns. In 2014, Apple's Cupertino, Calif.-based headquarters boasted a medical one-stop-shop "wellness center" offering in-house chiropractic care, dieticians and more. 

How else can a company make health an importance, and top of mind for its employees? Echoing point #1, how can employees get access to experts? How can employees get access to self-learning and self-assessments to map progress and improvement?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Gary Tho is the owner of Chiropractic Works, a Family Sports and Wellness clinic in Orchard and Tanjong Pagar in Singapore. He specialises in pain relief and high performance for individuals and organisations. He believes being be your best self requires a strong Mind, Body and Tribe.

Dr Gary is also the author of The Pain-Free Desk Warrior, Free yourself from aches and pains which is the definitive guide for those stuck at their desk for more than 2 hours a day.

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