How to Make Your Workplace Wellness Programs a Success, Not a Slog

May 10, 2023
Laura Bourne - Wellness Coach

Laura Bourne,

Laura Bourne is a holistic nutritionist and HR executive who thrives helping others build healthy habits and enjoy their lives to the fullest. Looking to restore your energy, improve your sleep, or manage your moods?

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Workplace wellness programs – they can support your business, increase employee engagement, and even improve your bottom line. Or they can simply be a flop. 

As HR professionals, we’ve all been there. Sometimes we don’t get support from management, so our wellness efforts are confined to “funny hat day” or banana smoothies at work. Or we are so bogged down with other work, we don’t have time to create a meaningful program to make our mark on the organization.

I’m an HR professional and holistic nutritionist…I’ve been there. I’ve seen the impacts of stress on my coworkers. I’ve seen high-potential leaders burn out. And I’ve also been fortunate to create programs that helped turn up the dial on workplace wellness.

So how do you do it?

Effective Workplace Wellness Programs Should Be Customized, not Turn-Key

When I work with corporate clients, I dig in to discover what is happening at their organizations. What makes their employees tick? What challenges are they facing as an organization? Then I help design workplace wellness programs to engage and energize employees. The best result is to get employees thinking, talking, and connecting on health and wellness issues.

Involving employees in planning wellness initiatives, getting feedback, and responding to their needs is key to success.

Effective Workplace Wellness Programs Should Be Comprehensive

There’s no one-approach-fits-all solution when it comes to employee wellness. Successful workplace wellness programs address physical, mental, and emotional health in the workplace.

As a holistic nutrition coach, I focus a lot on gut health. I find the growing science on the connection between gut health and mental health absolutely fascinating. Most of us understand what it is to have a “gut feeling,” or to “go with your gut.” Now we’re learning and understanding how the gut brain connection acts as an early warning system for our bodies. 

Good gut health isn’t just about diet and nutrition. It’s related to anxiety, depression, sleep, stress and more. Poor gut health can affect your brain…while poor mental health can affect your gut. That means paying attention to gut health is the foundation for positive physical, mental, and emotional health.

When I talk to employees about nutrition, I never drone on about healthy eating habits. We’ve heard it before. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important, but it can be preachy. 

Instead, I inspire by helping audiences connect with their health beyond diet and exercise (including meditation, sleep, stress, and mindfulness), and even add a little humour with talks like “Everyone Poops.”

Effective Workplace Wellness Programs Need Support from the Top

Support from management is critical to success. But many in the C-suite view wellness as simply “fluff.” So how do you get them to pay attention and support?

Make a business case – if employee burnout, stress leave, or sick days are impacting your bottom line (and they likely are) gather the numbers and design workplace wellness programs to address those issues. If wellness programs are presented without numbers and a plan, they are easier for management to dismiss.

In my HR past and nutritionist present, I have not only convinced the C-suite of the value of wellness programs, I have designed programs that deliver increased workplace engagement, productivity, collaboration, and performance.

Gather Feedback, and Be Prepared to Pivot

Don’t just collect a star rating, dig in deep. Interview employees from across your organization and ask them directly what they liked or didn’t like – what were their key takeaways, and what are their wellness goals. Then, if they agree, follow up down the road and assess whether your workplace wellness program had a positive impact.

Allow for Flexibility

Your workforce is diverse, so you should build diverse workplace wellness programs that help meet everyone where they are. If the Covid 19 pandemic taught us anything, it was how to be flexible. Your wellness programs should be too. Online and in-person talks, regular, achievable, and inspiring activities and goals that apply to work and home. Make accommodations for your employee’s health, habits, and abilities.

Ask for Help

The workplace is changing, and HR professionals have so much on their plates. Asking for a little help is not only reasonable, it’s healthy. Do a little research on workplace wellness professionals in your area (of course I’d love it if you included my workplace wellness programs on the list).

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It’s time to learn how to help your body work for you. It’s time to regain control of your health. It’s time to set yourself up for success.
Visit my website to learn more about what I can do for you.