Top Five Mistakes When Implementing a Corporate Health Program May 20th, 2010, by Ken Buckley

Every organisation wants to see a positive return on investment from their corporate health program, and implementing a well designed, appropriately tailored program is critical to that success.

Inadequate planning, poor management and fractional participation can all sabotage the long term benefits a comprehensive program offers. Rest assured an experienced provider should be able to help avoid the following pitfalls.

1. Inadequate Planning

Adequate and inclusive planning is crucial to a successful corporate health program. A best practice program always plans specific interventions that meet the needs of the individual organisation.

Consulting with employees early on is important in identifying the areas in most need of attention. A diagnosis should be formed based on employee feedback (from surveys, focus groups etc) combined with relevant organisational data such as rates of absenteeism, injury statistics and customer satisfaction. Assessing these primary needs not only provides a basis for the program design, but also the criteria for evaluation later on.

2. Lack of Involvement from Upper Management

Upper management failing to get involved can markedly undermine a program. Encouragement and support are important across all levels of staff, and a supportive environment must be established to reassure employees and boost participation.

A message from management during the early stages of a program can really help to galvanise support, as can involvement in some of the events. Remember that maximising employee participation is key to the success of a health program, and promotion and participation by the company’s leaders is an effective way of getting everyone on board.

3. Failing to Teach Skills

Remember that old Chinese proverb ‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime’. The adoption of a healthy lifestyle works in the same way. While it’s great to organise a fun run or treat employees to a stress-busting afternoon of relaxation and massage, it’s actually what happens afterwards that will shape the long term results of a program.

One-off or occasional events need to build health and wellness skills that employees can incorporate into their daily routines. Education and support for sustainable healthy behaviours should be the main focus.

4. Too Few Group-Based Initiatives

Making significant lifestyle changes can require a lot of support, and while it’s important to teach self-sufficiency, some encouragement and inspiration from peers can go a long way. Group based activities such as games days, sporting events and fitness challenges should be incorporated into a comprehensive program to complement individual elements.

5. A Lack of Focus on Long-Term Goals

Placing too much importance on the short term aspects of a program is a common blunder. Unhealthy habits are developed over years and can take time to turn around, so expectations and timelines should be set accordingly.

Initial boosts in confidence and morale need to be sustained by a supportive workplace environment and a long-term commitment from both employee and employer. Given time, the reward will be a happier, more energetic and more productive organisation in the long run.

For more information on corporate health programs, contact Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90 (International: IDD 61-2-9954-1888 ) and be sure to quote: “post265” for eligibility of Healthworks latest online offers and Corporate Health initiatives.

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