Someone once told me that you can’t define company culture, but you’ll know it when you see it - and I still believe that to this day.

Merriam Webster defines this abstract idea of culture as “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization”. Company culture is much more than slapping “integrity” on the wall for employees to pass on their way to the break room or making “accountability” the star of your next team meeting. Company culture happens organically when you hire the people that will protect and guard what you’ve built.

As a wellness or HR director, you likely want your co-workers to be healthy, you want the business to be healthy, and all of this is much easier and more effective if the collective supports each other in the journey. You may have the desire to grow your company’s culture to revolve around or maintain some sort of facet around fitness and wellness.

As you weave wellness into the core of your culture, you want to have people who have the set of values and beliefs that make your organization the embodiment of employing healthy, happy, and well people.

Integrating wellness into your company’s culture is a heavy task that, when done well, has lasting effects on the company and its employees. Average participation in wellness programs is between 20-40%, a number that needs to be, and can be, changed. As a wellness director, you have a unique ability to positively impact people's’ lives, a rewarding experience that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience throughout my career. But, let me tell you this…

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was any successful wellness program. Successful wellness directors pour time, dedication, and resources into establishing a healthy and happy company culture. When you’re starting out, knowing where to begin can be difficult.

While the road that leads to building a culture that focuses on wellness might be long, it will be worth it. Follow these pointers to help you along the way.

Create a wellness brand

Before you begin implementing your wellness programs, take time to build a brand that embodies your wellness initiatives. Hold a brainstorming session and think up clever taglines that align with the company culture you want to achieve. Once you have the tagline, create a visual representation for your new wellness brand to include in your promotional materials, emails, etc. This visual identity should be easily recognizable and can represent a seal of approval for employees.


Recruit a committee

Tackling wellness is a feat in itself and one thing is certain: you can’t go it alone. A wellness team will help you through various stages of managing your wellness programs. From researching and implementing programs to marketing and recruiting initiatives, you’ll be thankful you have a helping hand.

Having a team of wellness champions will help you drive wellness throughout the company. Don’t be afraid to delegate. Send company-wide announcements asking for volunteers to join your team but don’t feel obligated to provide compensation if it isn’t in your budget. Let them be intrinsically motivated to help. Whatever the size of your organization, you’re likely to have at least one employee who lives and breathes a personal culture of wellness. These wellness champions can take on grassroots initiatives and further contribute to spreading the company’s focus on wellness.


Make wellness fun, unique, and engaging

Gone are the days of boring, one-size-fits-all programs. Data or Stat about the success of those types of programs? The wellness industry boasts a wide array of tools and resources that allow companies to provide truly unique experiences to their employees. Activity trackers like Apple watches and FitBits enable employees to monitor their heart rate and fitness levels while competing with co-workers. If your budget allows, use these as tools to engage your employees in company or department-wide challenges.

A study done by the Society of Human Resource Management notes that something organizations can do to leverage benefits is align those benefits with organizational strategy, values and culture to help foster employee commitment, sense of purpose and engagement.  

Peerfit provides companies with a flexible fitness solution that enables employees to choose fitness routines that work for them. Boutique fitness is on the rise because of its fun, unique, and engaging energy; giving employees the flexibility of choice allows them to discover a fitness option that they’ll want to go back to over and over again. Bonus: you’ll notice an increase in engagement as employees engage in something that they actually enjoy.


Focus on the individual, not the program

People don’t want to feel like another cog in the machine, yet oftentimes, wellness directors concern themselves more with a program’s success than with the employee’s well being. Take the time to lay a solid foundation from which you can build your culture. Learn about the individuals that will participate in the wellness programs you’ll offer and how they’ll benefit from the company’s wellness initiatives.

The National Business Group on Health conducted a study on 1,000 full-time employees of large companies being offered well-being programs. What’s telling about this study, however, is looking at the group that did not participate: 37% did not find these programs personally relevant. According to the NBGH, this is “a strong indication that greater personalization and awareness is needed to drive employee engagement”.

At the end of the day, we’re all human beings who want to be heard and appreciated in our own ways. Whatever motivates employees and leads them to engage in your culture will differ from person to person. Listen to your people so you can build a culture that will truly benefit them.

When all's said and done, leading your company to wellness is a multi-step process. As much as you may enjoy taking on the role of superman, the reality is that nobody can do it alone. Recruit a team, create a wellness brand that’s as fun and unique as your culture, and, above all, focus on providing individualized attention to your people.

I’ll leave you with one last thing. Don’t forget to celebrate the milestones. A little praise and recognition goes a long way. What has your own culture lead you to celebrate?

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