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Building Your Culture of Wellness

Wellness programmes aren’t new. Remember the buzz around the office when everyone received an ergonomic chair and keyboard? The next generation of wellness programmes are empowering employees to make lifestyle choices that positively impact their wellbeing and productivity.

Matt Chapman, CEO of Chapman Consulting Group discusses his philosophy on wellness and shares some of the corporate trends on what makes some Wellness programmes more successful than others.

A culture of wellness

Creating a healthy and positive working environment is every company’s dream. Human Resources teams across the globe have created workshops, delivered team-building exercises, and established any number of corporate initiatives for the overall wellbeing of their employees. Yet, despite all the hours dedicated to researching and setting up these programmes–not to mention the budgets–why do so many of them fail?

Many larger organisations have a wellness programme, but too many of them have been created as just another “HR initiative” and lack senior management’s support in creating an environment that promotes health, happiness, and productivity.

“Wellness has always been a very important topic for me,” says Matt. “Maintaining a perspective around work and life makes me more successful, and I think many of the HR Leaders in our network feel the same way. At ChapmanCG, we have employees based all over the world, and some of them are disabled and some only work part-time, so it’s important that our philosophy around wellness isn’t too rigid. Our overriding view is that our employees’ lives come first, and their professional lives second.”

Carrie Gray, Director of Operations at ChapmanCG, shares Matt’s passion about wellness and has helped integrate it into their corporate philosophy. “We have a personal trainer and nutritionist who runs our weekly bootcamp sessions for our Singapore-based employees. And we keep everyone abreast on trends and interesting ideas around other wellness topics using Facebook@work,” she says. “I think having a senior management team who promotes employee wellness empowers our staff to make the right choices for them around work, and life, and their health.”

A variety of options

The aim of any Wellness programme is to create an environment that allows employees to have a sustainable balance between life and work, with a focus on productivity and health. Those that are successful evolve with the company’s culture, changing alongside the workforce it’s meant to serve. But what works at one organisation may not be easily replicated at another.

“Our Wellness programme can’t be all things to all people, but we can strive for it to be relevant,” says Matt. “So we try our best to take into account what our employees want, and we build from there.”

Some organisations find that classes and events like these are popular with their employees:

  • Discounted gym membership or fitness classes;
  • Financial, health, stress management or cooking workshops;
  • Organisational initiatives such as Week of Healthy Eating, After Hours/Lunchtime Fun Runs, and Meditation and Mindfulness Sessions; and
  • Social responsibility programmes that are funded by the organisation and spearheaded by employees.

But Matt is quick to add it’s not just about how many yoga classes you can schedule.It’s about changing how you think so that wellness can drive not only the programmes you offer, but the look and feel of your organisation:

  • Replacing vending machines filled with sugary snacks and beverages with fresh fruits and other healthy alternatives;
  • Adding breakout corners, pool tables, and reading nooks that take the place of lesser-used meeting rooms and large personal offices; and
  • Redesigning the current office layout for increased movement and mobility–open spaces for stretching and ergonomically adjustable desks for those who prefer to spend a portion of their day standing are gaining traction.

When wellness flourishes

It might seem obvious, but many Wellness programmes fail because of improper design, a lack of communication, and poor support.

  • Design
    • “It was really important to us that we didn’t overcomplicate our programme,” Matt said. “We have a combination of corporate and individual wellness goals, and our aim is to help our employees be successful.”
  • Communication
    • With so many communication mediums, it’s hard to believe that some companies miss the mark by simply not informing their employees.
    • “We are fortunate in that we are one of only 30 organisations piloting Facebook@work, and it’s an incredibly helpful platform for our Wellness programme and the other employee-led groups like our Photography Society, Exercise, Motivation, and Nutrition. Employees can share what they like and what’s not working so we can make the necessary changes.”
  • Support
    • The most vital aspect of a successful Wellness programme is management support. “If the Wellness programme is relevant and supported by the senior leadership team, employees will participate,” Matt says.

“My hope is that if you surveyed our employees, you’d find a high percentage of participants who are happy, as they are the reason our Wellness programme exists. We feel that companies should be doing more in this space, so hopefully our work in this area can help make that happen.”


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