Developing Your Wellness Brand

In May's post, Employee Wellness As We Know It Is Evolving, we discussed the WHY of workplace wellness moving past the traditional physical-only approach and more towards a multi-dimensional whole person approach. In today's post, we will begin to discuss the HOW of this evolution and what your company needs to begin implementing for an effective employee wellbeing strategy. 

To simplify, we came up with three key components to implementing this strategy: 1. Create an Employee Wellbeing Brand; 2. Develop Your People; 3. Evaluate and Improve. 

Today's post will focus solely on the first component of Creating a Wellbeing Brand.

Why this is so important? What is the purpose of creating an employee wellbeing brand at your organization?

The short and simple answer: Alignment. This is where the question of leadership support and employee health engagement comes into play. Think of your employees as your internal customers. If you don’t know what your selling or why you’re selling (i.e. wellness/wellbeing) then neither do they. Alignment has to occur from your employers to your employees. Branding can then occur when you have created alignment in a compelling manner that is RELEVANT and MEANINGFUL to those who encounter it - i.e. your employees + leadership. 

There are three main parts to creating a brand and all depend on the last one, which is readiness. The first is: What’s the purpose? What is the purpose of your wellness program, the real purpose? What is your current culture, the REAL LIFE culture at your organization? Second, what are the values of the program? Those values seen and lived everyday in your organization. And third, what is your organization's readiness to truly brand? Determining your organization's readiness to brand is the key to the success of implementing an effective employee wellness program. 

As stated above, if you think of your employees as your internal customers, the question becomes: are they buying what you’re selling in your wellness program & inititaives? If not, then your employee wellbeing brand needs to be revisited, rebranded, re-something into a brand that is RELEVANT AND MEANINGFUL to your organization.

Branding takes place because this is where you get buy-in from your leadership AND your employees. This is not just about creating a logo or a marketing campaign. This is about CREATING a wellness brand that is part of the overall cultural brand. A brand that is true to the identity of the organization. A brand that aligns with the values of the organization AND the true organizational culture. This step is the foundation of creating wellbeing in your organization because people support only what they help create. And this includes ALL people, leadership down and back up again.

Branding includes really understanding WHY you have employee wellness at your organization. You will also understand your organization’s READINESS and can more accurately communicate with them why or why not they are seeing certain results.

Employee Wellness As We Know It Is Evolving

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Employee wellness is evolving as fast as companies implement it. We have found that the traditional concept of health & wellness in the workplace, one that has focused solely on a physical approach, is now advancing to that of seeing an employee as a WHOLE person. Rather than asking, "Is the employee sick or not?" effective employee wellness strategies are progressing into people development strategies and focusing on developing each employee's wellbeing within the workplace AND at home.

We are outgrowing the traditional approach of employee wellness focusing on managing risk factors (Ex: BMI, Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, Nutrition and Physical Activity) into this new approach that employee wellness really needs to be focusing on PEOPLE factors and how they influence the organization's overall health and bottom line. 

This evolution does not mean that what we have been doing in workplace wellness needs to now be excluded. In fact, we know that physical health has been shown to directly affect a person’s overall wellbeing. For example, we know that employees who exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and eat nutritiously have less absenteeism and presenteeism at work. This approach is not a THIS OR THAT approach; rather a THIS AND THAT approach.

So, why are we experiencing this shift and going through this transition? The future of work is rapidly changing. We are in an era where digital technology has disrupted the status quo, where information is more readily shared, where generational differences are more than apparent. By 2020, so just a couple years from now, we will see that almost HALF of the workforce will be Millenials. This is not a scary thing, but it is change. It means that we need to evolve and adapt.

Milennials want an employee experience. Employee experience is relevant and vital to organizations that want to not only survive, but grow and thrive. We are seeing this through their wants and needs. It’s no longer that you just go to a job and “grind it out.” Employees want greater autonomy - they want to feel like they have a say in their day. They want some control back. They want greater flexibility. We are seeing this through many ways, most of all work-from home options. Employees want to make an impact in their organization and they want to work for a company that makes an impact in the community. We are seeing a transition from this idea of coming to work “just for a paycheck” and rather coming to work to make an impact. Employees want more of a collaborative approach. They want to be not only on the team, but in the game. They want to contribute their talents, to share, to explore. And most of all, they want both personal and professional development. They want to be valued, to know that they are more than an employee number. That they are worth investing in.

One of the key foundations we will be seeing in companies that thrive will be the efforts, strategy, and intention they place on their employees' wellbeing. The workplace is changing - does your company have a wellness strategy to keep up?