8 Wellness Initiatives that Work

April 7, 2021
April 7, 2021 Staff Writer

Do your employees come to work when they’re sick—even if they have available sick days or personal time off? If so, your association’s culture may place a higher value on being “at work” than being “productive at work.” This presenteeism—being present at work when really not mentally or physically performing at peak levels—is an expensive business. In a recent 2020 study from Deloitte, researchers suggested that annual revenue loss due to presenteeism is rising, with the current cost over $40 billion a year, an increase of 16% since 2017.

The good news? A wellness program can quickly help reduce the number of days lost to presenteeism. Comprehensive programs address a variety of employee needs, including physical, mental, emotional, and financial health, but even quick fixes can help without breaking the budget. 

1) Actively Create a Health-Forward Culture

If you have a start-up culture of “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” you might not be worried about employee wellness right now. Eventually, however, as your association matures, you’ll join others who are no longer willing to sacrifice productivity to preventable problems. Your culture might need an overhaul and your managers might need a little one-on-one coaching.

Consider how your relationship with things like time off, daily task management, and expectations affect the health and well-being of your staff. If it is not at the forefront of your mind, it is likely that it’s not being prioritized, a key aspect of presenteeism. Remember: it’s one thing to say that you care about your team’s health and productivity and a different thing to show by your daily decisions that it’s not.

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2) Review Health Insurance Packages

When it’s time to review the association’s health insurance policy, ask staff members what benefits are most important to them. The association can create a basic plan that allows employees to add coverage like dental or vision at their own cost. Be sure to consider the cost of both premiums and deductibles as you review your policy.

A recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management revealed that employees value comprehensive coverage the most, and they are most worried about rising costs. Prescription drug coverage, preventive care and emergency care are the benefits that matter the most. You might also review mental health benefits, as well as new parent benefits.

3) Provide Exercise Space

As we start to move back into offices after the pandemic, think about how you can help employees exercise before, during, or after work. We know of one association that allowed employees to use its space to host yoga and exercise classes. Granted, it was a large association, but several of its staff members held instructor credentials for exercise classes, and they helped plan the program. The association arranged to have classes in its facility and invited all employees to participate. We know other associations that forged partnerships with local studios or gyms to give employees discounted access.

4) Encourage Walking Meetings

Steve Jobs was famous for inviting his business colleagues to take a walk with him. His walking meetings were thought slightly odd at the time, but the research is beginning to catch up. The direct health benefits of walking while talking are pretty clear, but new research from the University of Hong Kong shows that walking side-by-side helps bond the participants, and research from Stanford University shows walking boosts creativity by about 60 percent. Your association’s culture may have to adjust to staff members leaving their offices during the day to hold walking meetings, but productivity and creativity may benefit. 

5) Share Healthy Recipes

Even the smallest associations have some physical space dedicated to employees, whether it’s a break room or a bulletin board. These days, it might even be an online place for staffers to hang out or chat. Using these spots as focal points, challenge your staff members to share their tastiest healthy recipes with each other in that space. Recipes are easy to photocopy or tack on a bulletin board. Associations are famous for their potluck lunches, and when we’re back in the office, you can host a “healthy potluck” and encourage staff to bring options from the shared recipes. It’s a great way to get colleagues to interact, exchange healthy food options, and share a meal.

6) Host Weight-Loss Classes

Do you have a meeting space that you could offer to a weight-loss educator? Bringing someone in to help your staffers lose weight as a group can help build camaraderie and make it easier for participants to stay with the program. Even if you don’t have space to offer, programs like WW – formerly Weight Watchers – have corporate programs. Be aware that you might need to offer staffers a bit of privacy as they work toward their goals. 

7) Encourage Stress Reduction

Stress is an expected part of modern life, but constant, long-term stress can ruin your health. Symptoms of stress overload include panic attacks, irritability, moodiness, stomach problems, allergic reactions, and sleep problems, among others. Reducing stress levels can help lower the risk for obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression. Healthline.com recommends the following ways to relieve stress: meditation, yoga, exercise, a healthy diet, reducing caffeine, keeping a journal, spending time with friends and family, and laughter. Your association can encourage stress reduction with education and a culture that allows staffers to work at reasonable stress levels.

The Takeaway

Developing a place where productivity is the goal means that not everyone is on all the time. The most effective organizations recognize that it is vital to make space for health—both physical and mental—especially in a climate where team members are managing their own work activities remotely.

One of the areas we work with clients on is helping to set and align priorities that contribute to healthier workplaces. Our culture-driven coaching program gives you actionable strategies you can use today to build a more dynamic and agile learning organization where every team member is performing at their very best—both on and off the clock.

Find out more about business coaching and the Rockefeller Habits for associations.




Photo by Jay Castor

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