Why corporate wellness programs don’t boost productivity (and three things that will)
If recent new year’s resolutions of being fitter and healthier had you thinking of implementing or proposing a corporate wellness program – try ticking off on these three tips in your business to give your team something they’ll actually use (and that will benefit your business in doing so) – time.
With eating healthier and exercising more being the top 2 New Year’s resolutions people make when entering a new year, it’s no surprise January/February sees a surge in gym memberships – and the establishment or revival of corporate wellness programs. The business case for implementing a corporate wellness program does look attractive on face value – improved health of team members should (theoretically) lead to reduced sick days, all the extra endorphins cultivated at morning yoga classes should improve happiness in the office, and research suggests that healthy workers are more productive than unhealthy workers.
However, recent research suggests that corporate wellness programs (even those with monetary incentives) don’t change employee behaviour much at all! These programs tend to involve gym memberships or fitness classes, mindfulness activities, or access to counselling services. While each of these are fantastic initiatives and would no doubt be gladly welcomed by many team members – they often don’t lead to the outcomes of improved productivity or lower health care costs that management expects. Why? Because the offerings of most corporate wellness programs fail to remedy the aspects of work that directly contribute to stress and poor health – long working hours, short deadlines, and bad management.
So, what does a corporate wellness program that does address these key drivers look like, and can it benefit the business and employees alike? Well, Henry Ford established one of the oldest corporate wellbeing programs during the 1920’s. In 1926 Ford reduced the working week from 48 hours to 40 in order to improve worker productivity – and it’s now seen as one of the most successful wellness intervention programs implemented, because it directly acknowledges the impact the workplace itself has on workers.
The idea has been around for a while and it’s seen a resurgence in more recent years – the 5-hour work day, the 4 day work week, the introduction of flexible hours and tele-commuting are all initiatives designed to bolster productivity, and improve the “social health” of team members. As Collins SBA, an accounting business in Hobart that successfully run a 5-hour work day have found, the 5-hour work day has led to a complete change in their culture, productivity, and approach to innovation – one that’s been a positive game-changer for their business.
So instead of giving out gym memberships or installing healthy vending machines in the office, focus on creating time, by giving it back.
Here are our top three tips to help you do so:
- Systemise your business processes– Having documented procedures in place can go a long way in improving efficiency and giving back time. Formalising procedures for tasks within your business will lead to great consistency in how tasks are carried out (and therefore in the outcomes of those tasks), reduce the effort involved in reviewing, checking or overseeing work; and reduces knowledge burden/reliance – minimising risk of knowledge being lost with team movements. Run a procedure audit buy mapping out your key business processes and identifying any gaps where procedures have not been documented or recently updated, and ask the question “what would happen if…”.
- Put resources towards forward forecasting, work planning and resource allocation– While it’s inevitable that challenging projects with tight time frames will cross our desks from time to time, thanks to the raft of information tracked (and able to be tracked) in practice management systems these days, there really shouldn’t be any surprises when it comes to resource allocation in our offices. Having said that, we know it can sometimes be difficult to harvest information on how a job is progressing to budget, or what the pipeline and flow of work looks like for the coming period, from your system. Start with identifying the key pieces of information critical to helping your team effectively manage their workload (ask them). Your practice management provider may be able to help you extract this using inbuilt reports or alerts, or you might prefer to use a custom dashboard such as View
- Automate repetitive processes– Humans and robots have very different skillsets – and we need them both in our business. Automating repetitive processes is one of the easiest ways to improve productivity and free your team up to focus on activities that are more engaging and that client’s value (and knock of a little earlier in the process). Automations don’t have to be technical, extensive, or even require new programs to help improve efficiency – it could be as simple as implementing an excel report hooked up to your database, or using auto email alerts – two simple solutions that have huge potential to turbocharge your teams productivity and efficiency. We suggest you brainstorm as a team to create a list of tasks that are repeated regularly and that are resource heavy, then make sure you get the right support to help you implement the automation, prioritise improvements and make larger projects more manageable. For example, a simple trigger using the free online program Zapier could automate the merging of marketing data from an online form to your newsletter list, while a solution like FuseDocs can fully automate the preparation of your annual client collations.