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by Zara
29 Nov

7 Reasons Why Short-Term Corporate Wellness Programs Fail

A short-term corporate wellness initiative sounds like a great idea. You want to invite your employees to take on a new challenge and get healthier. After all, healthier employees are less likely to be absent or to find themselves distracted by chronic health problems--not to mention the fact that a healthier workplace is often a happier one.

In many companies, however, wellness initiatives become short-term answers to long-term problems. Instead of creating a company culture that thrives on wellness, many companies try short initiatives that are, ultimately, only a band-aid on a bigger problem. Have you been attempting a short-term wellness initiative with your company? Here are some key reasons why it won't work.


1. It Takes Time to Form Healthy Habits

Many people start with the assumption that it takes just 21 days, or 30 days, or some other length of time to start forming healthy habits. The reality, however, is that forming habits can take more than just a month. In fact, it takes around 66 days to actually make a new routine into a habit. Not only that, it could take as much as 254 days to truly cement a new habit regardless of whether or not you mess up a few times along the way. What that means for your company, however, is that a 21-day wellness incentive, or a month-long wellness initiative, simply won't be enough to truly create new, healthy habits in your employees. Instead, plan for the long road: create a wellness program that is designed to last. 


2. It's Easy to Forget

Many of your employees start out with great intentions. They're going to smash those health and wellness goals and reach those incentives. Unfortunately, it doesn't take them long to fall off the wagon. Deadlines are fast approaching, and they're struggling to keep up with the workload. Stress at home is mounting. It's easier to skip that workout, or to reach for an unhealthy snack than it is to stay on track to keep up with overall health and wellness--and unfortunately, it shows. You want your employees to stay on track with their wellness program, not fall away again at the first hint of potential trouble. By hosting a long-term corporate wellness program, on the other hand, you and your employees can continue to experience those key benefits long-term as you offer a fresh incentive with the turn of the seasons. 


3. Holidays and Vacations Can Derail Anyone

We've all gone on vacation and eaten far more than we would have under ordinary circumstances--or headed home for the holidays and overindulged in all of our favorite treats in spite of our best intentions. Then, getting back on track when the holidays are over becomes an ongoing struggle. "Just one more Christmas cookie won't matter." "Oh, I have plenty of time to get back in shape after my vacation." Don't let these simple breaks in routine become a new habit! Instead, provide your employees with ongoing incentive and reminders to take care of their physical health. Vacation or not, your employees should still have access to your corporate challenges and be able to see progress boards or hear more information about new programs and incentives. With this simple strategy, you can help get your employees back on track--and they may not even realize that you're doing it. 


4. Convenience Simply Makes Staying Healthy Easier

In today's busy, fast-paced society, convenience is the key to staying healthy. As part of your corporate wellness program, do you naturally make it easier for your employees to engage in health and wellness? For example, you might have an exercise room on the premises where your employees can get in their workout for the day during their lunch break. 

You might choose to fill the vending machines with healthy treats so that it will be easier for employees to snack healthy when they're stuck at the office over lunch time or they've forgotten to bring snacks with them. With that convenience, you continue to encourage your employees' overall wellness success. Without it, however, they're more likely to reach for whatever is available: candy bars in the vending machines, for example. 


5. Wellness Programs Are About the Long Haul

Many wellness programs begin because employers are excited about the potential cost-saving benefits. Healthier employees are less likely to miss work or to deal with chronic health problems, which can lead to incredible cost savings for the company in the long run. Unfortunately, wellness programs may not show immediate benefit. Instead, they show their benefits over years of use, as steady corporate wellness incentives create a healthier employee population. In many cases, these benefits may be difficult to estimate at first. That is why it's even more important to collect data about your staff overall well-being and be able to measure and analyze the before and after results.


6. Immediate Results Aren't the Same As Long-Term Results

Just six weeks after beginning a corporate wellness program, you may start to see changes in your employees. Those who engage in healthier behaviors--getting more exercise; eating more fruits and vegetables--may begin to see a positive impact on their health within those first six weeks. The results, however, don't stop there. Six months, twelve months, and even as much as eighteen months after your wellness program begins, your employees may continue to see an increase in positive health results. This doesn't even count the change seen by individuals who are eating healthy or trying to reach new exercise goals as part of the program: they may continue to see positive results for as long as they're participating in these programs and changes. 


7. Real Wellness Requires Lifestyle Change

Many dieters quickly gain back the weight they lost while they were restricting calories and engaging in excessive exercise. They worked hard and got great results in the short term, but long-term, it's a lot harder to keep that weight off. To really experience the wellness benefits of exercise and healthy eating, it's necessary to opt for lifestyle change: a real change in the way you think about exercise and food. A short-term wellness program has the same benefit as a short-term diet: it might serve to kick-start temporary change, like fitting into a new dress for a special event, but ultimately, it won't last for most of your employees. If you want to create real change in the wellness levels of your employees, it's necessary to create a shift in the way you all think about wellness: a long-term change that's about more than just presenting healthier options. 

Your employees already know that they need to eat more fruits and vegetables and exercise more often. That information is readily available to them. For a corporate wellness program to work, they need incentive and convenience: two of the biggest pieces of the wellness puzzle. A long-term corporate wellness program has the potential to provide that for them. Healthy foods in the vending machines, conference rooms, and at company events can make it easier for employees to eat healthy no matter how busy they are or what season it might be. Readily-available exercise equipment makes it easier to fit in a workout on a short break, while periodic corporate fitness challenges and fun widgets help keep that initiative going. If you want to create real change in your workplace, don't settle for a short-term initiative that will be forgotten in a matter of days or weeks. Instead, offer a long-term wellness program that focuses on creating happier, healthier employees. 


Photo Credit: Depositphotos


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