“Wellness program success depends on executive sponsorship”.

It’s probably the most common refrain uttered by corporate wellness consultants, (including Walker Tracker).

Clearly, this isn’t news to anyone.

Yet, in the hundreds of programs we run each year, organizations where the leadership team truly advocates healthy living in both words and deeds are more exception than rule. When we do run across engaged management teams, program results are clearly better.

We realize that the job of an HR or Benefits Manager can be really tough. And it’s not really your place to lecture the “C” suite on corporate priorities. But, when leadership opens the door, there are some key points you should try to get across.

1) This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Management needs to understand that wellness programs are about changing long-term behavior, and that takes time. Short-term programs and incentives can get you started, but true positive change (and ROI) won’t be realized for several years.

2) Wellness is just a component of the corporate culture, not a culture of its own.

This is a stumbling block for many organizations. Creating a wellness culture does not mean you’re lobbying to change the core company values that have brought business success. Whether your culture is a ruthless meritocracy or a feel-good team, adding wellness just means your organization will do business as usual – only with healthier employees. Your job is to deliver programs that communicate the importance of employee health to the company’s future success, in the context of your standard business practices. Make sure your boss understands this.

3) Employee communication should include messages from the top.

There’s no way around this one. Employees will respond positively to messages from the CEO, especially when the communication contains information on program goals and results. A key communication from executives should be in the form of program participation. Make sure to invite your management team to participate…visibly.

4) Wellness program ROI should not be measured by healthcare metrics alone

Most companies miss this point or don’t take the time/effort to establish key metrics for employee productivity. When you’re talking with management, work to establish the important measures of productivity for your organization and include these in your wellness program review process. Your healthcare costs may actually rise as employees visit their doctor and get tested. Over time, these costs are offset by the impact of improved health on employee output.

We’re happy to help you with ideas – just ask!