How to Encourage Wellness at Your Office (and Save Money and Time)

06 Feb 2017

Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any nation can have.

Winston Churchill

Actively encouraging wellness lifestyles among your staff benefits not only your employees, but can also have an immediate impact on your business health.

Rather than waiting for employees to get sick and then paying for medical services, a new paradigm of proactive wellness is taking hold in many companies. This preventative, long-view approach has plenty of documented advantages. It can:

  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Reduce medical and pharmacy costs
  • Reduce “presenteeism” (i.e., working while sick)
  • Reduce workers’ compensation and/or disability costs

Organizations that invest in wellness save on healthcare costs while increasing productivity, morale, and employee retention.

One Way to Encourage Proactive Wellness: Walkvember

As a company committed to wellness, we invest in our staff’s health journeys in a fun way.

Making wellness initiatives fun are fundamental to their adoption and success.

At TradeMark Media, last November was a month-long health initiative called Walkvember. (You may have heard of the Walktober walking challenge before, ours is the same concept, but because it’s too hot here in Austin in October, we decided to do a walking challenge in November instead. November in Texas is ideal for walking, hence the birth of Walkvember!)

The purpose of our Walkvember was to encourage people to get out there and just walk. Being a month long helped our staff incorporate walking into their daily routine and dramatically boost the total amount they walked.

How to Organize a Walkvember (or Walkuary or Walk-March)

First, buy some prizes. Health is its own reward, of course, but nothing kick-starts an HR initiative like Walkvember like some good, old-fashioned bribes. We offered:

  • Tier 1 (550 minutes) - Black & Decker Bottle-Attachable Blender
  • Tier 2 (550 minutes + 4 activities) -  Bear Butt Parachute Camping Hammock
  • Tier 3 (550 minutes + 6 activities) - ECEEN Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Next, we created a log booklet (with rules listed inside) in which our staff could track the minutes they walked or exercised:

Walkvember booklet with rules and cover sheetDowload the Full Walkvember Log Booklet Here (PDF)

We also listed bonus activities that helped staff qualify for more prizes. We also created a chatroom (in our intra-office chat system, HipChat) for participants to post updates and pictures when they reached their goals. The more we posted about our individual wins, the more that others were inspired to take action.

Activity is contagious!

More than half of our employees participated. We learned a lot about each other, like:

  • Wiley won a plank challenge and ran a half-marathon
  • Cris is an accomplished fine artist
  • Rhonda designs baby clothes

... and we had a lot of fun. Our wellness improved and it didn’t take a huge budget. We care about each other even more now, and that helps us do our daily work more openly, honestly, and collaboratively.

In the past, wellness programs have often been viewed as an extra workplace perk, not a critical part of the economic strategy of a company. But according the Harvard Business Review, “Most analyses of workplace wellness programs focus on hard-dollar returns: money invested versus money saved. Often overlooked is the potential to strengthen an organization’s culture and to build employee pride, trust, and commitment.”

A strong culture—and a healthy one—keeps your employees happy and around.