You have done well to secure a budget, here is our expert guide to help you plan your spend.

Wellness is an absolute must have. You have done well to secure a budget, however, large or small. However now comes the second challenge: how to spend it. Here is our expert guide to help you plan your spend.

1) Survey the workforce. It is imperative you carry out a needs analysis and not only that but also a ‘want’s analysis’ too. If the team have demonstrated a need to better manage workload and cope with stress, but have not vocalised this as a want, they may not be willing to accept services aimed at this need, just yet.

For example, imagine a colleague who has spent the last twenty years working twelve hour days, travelling every other week and living on caffeine. Will he/she suddenly make the time to attend a weekly mindfulness course with six other colleagues? Without any preparation or education, that may warm them to the idea? If the answer is no, then perhaps you need to take a step back and observe and listen to your employees first, before implementing specific wellness services. Even then, employees may be resistant from in-house projects. Often a third party provider can gain more information just by being a different source.

2) Play it safe and win some enthusiasm first. In fact, highlight those employees who are most enthused by wellness and make them champions of your programme. Individual elements of a wellness plan will always be more popular and appreciated. Swapping the Crunchy Nut cornflakes for a higher quality cereal and fresh fruit is unlikely to be met with too much disdain. A simple wellness service such as massage therapy is an excellent introduction to wellness and helps win employees interest.

3) Outsource experts. We have observed this problem before. A company establishes its internal wellness goals (again not the best idea without the help of an experienced consultant) and subsequently appoints someone to lead the initiative. The problem here is that the elected person may not have the expertise or kudos to head up such a programme. We have seen junior level employees given the opportunity to run wellness programmes. They have a great passion, but often they, unfortunately, lack the level of authority to champion the agenda. Employees need to feel that the most senior level of management has bought in and encourage usage.

Appointing an internal wellness lead can often alienate people. Here are two scenarios:

A – You nominate one of the healthiest employees to champion elements of the programme because it seems like an obvious choice. But is this person popular? Do they have charisma? Are they an influencer? If not, there is no point. Also, they could have an adverse effect the less healthy employees who are the exact people we want to engage. People can easily feel intimidated and isolated. It is imperative this does not happen. Instead, look at someone who is perhaps less healthy but willing to immerse themselves in the services and so be the example.

B – You appoint someone in HR to run the programme. Logical perhaps, but does this person understand wellness? Do they have the right personality to promote such an agenda? How do your employees respond to your HR department? Unfairly for HR, quite often employees have an opinion that things can be “just another HR thing”. Using a third party provider eliminates this.

4) Now you have observed and listened and appointed the correct person; it’s time to look at what you will provide. We suggest aiming for services which have a broad reach. If the budget is sparse, we recommend that you provide scalable services around non-specialist subjects, such as nutrition presentations and regular group yoga classes over (exclusive) health screens or 1:1 coaching. There is always a way, and inclusion is the key.

5) Spread the costs of your wellness programme over an extended period. Setting aside large sums of money for away days (see our blog on away days here) or in-office annual wellness days can be useful IF the days are backed up by complementary services, that keep the wellness message consistent and alive.

Promoting stress reduction on, for example, World Mental Health Day (October the 10th 2017) will have little impact if the culture of unmanaged stress and poor health continues. If you were considering bringing in a wellness team and promoting all aspects of sound mental health as part of a wellness day awareness campaign, we would say you will have far greater effect by offering a quarterly mindfulness-based course for small groups of employees, run as thirty-minute sessions. Far easier for employees to fit into their schedule and you might just find that busy colleague as mentioned earlier in point one, makes the time!

Communicate your programme efficiently and make all offers complementary and synergistic to each other, over a substantial period, and finally, remember your metrics, know your goals and the value of return so that you can measure the success of your wellness programme and gain a larger budget for 2018. For more on achieving employee wellness, we recommend reading our white paper, here.

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