Business GrowthCorporate WellnessFundamentals and Best Practices How to Create Effective Corporate Wellness Programs

Colleagues warming up for a run outside

Corporate wellness isn’t an oxymoron, ‘cause you really can be well at work. Companies desperately want to take care of and retain top talent, and many are launching corporate wellness programs. Usually, they don’t have that expertise in-house—which is where you come in, trainers!

Many corporate wellness programs are delivered by trainers who consult for companies long-term. You’ll have to adapt your programming slightly in some cases, but that comes with a bigger paycheck. (Some of these brands have serious money!) But to land big clients, you’ll need to know how to build a corporate wellness program or integrate your training into one that’s already in place. 

At ABC Trainerize, we’ve built tools many trainers to deliver corporate wellness programs at scale, so we know a thing or two about what it takes. We’ll dive into the benefits of structured wellness programs, then discuss how to approach building one for a client you’re landing. And naturally, we’ll explore all the most popular structures for corporate wellness programs—so you’ve got that knowledge tucked away in your back pocket. 

Let’s dive in and learn what it all means!

What are the benefits of corporate wellness programs?

These are some of the key impacts corporate wellness programs have on employee health.

1. Increased productivity and engagement

Exercise and balanced nutrition help us to be more alert and energized. At work, this translates directly into teams that are more engaged and productive. They will work harder and faster while feeling better. As your clients’ employees start to feel that tasty post-exercise endorphin boost, they’ll up their creativity, problem-solving skills, and daily productivity.

2. Greater job satisfaction and retention

A healthy lifestyle can make employees feel more satisfied at work, which correlates directly with their long-term commitments to their jobs. Corporate wellness programs might seem like a simple perk, but there’s actually a strong business case behind them—both for workers and their firms.

3. Lower healthcare costs

Businesses juggle many costs, and staff health is one of them. When employees are healthier, they’re less likely to incur extra health expenses and need extended time off. This’s a long-tail impact of corporate wellness programs, but it’s one that should never be discounted. 

4. Better morale around the office

Office morale can make or break a work environment. Corporate wellness programs can help break the monotony around the office (or home office!) and inject a little sunshine into the workday. This means happier employees, happier teams, and for lack of a better term: good vibes. 

7 steps to creating an effective corporate wellness program

Wellness programs that corporate clients stick to aren’t easy to build. Let’s explore strategies for creating programming that supports both health and a better work-life balance.

1. Assess peoples’ needs and interests

Getting corporate clients means developing a keen sense for what your client’s employees need, and it’s your job to do that research. Before you approach them as a potential client, learn about where their offices are distributed, and read through their company LinkedIn page—to get a little sense of the corporate culture. 

From there, take time to map those goals onto the programming you’d deliver to them, so your initial offer reflects their preferences. Once you’re in the room, refine the plan with their input. They might not have flexible working hours and need on-demand programming‚ or an ultra-flexible working schedule that lets folks dip out for a cheeky gym session. 

You’ll never know until you ask!

2. Get buy-in from management

To make sure that your corporate wellness program has sustained support, it’s very important to generate buy-in from management, too. Show them your research, the benefits of corporate wellness program opportunities, and what makes your program the right fit for your company.

Laying out the business case is important here. Pull up some research that connects corporate wellness to retention and staff satisfaction, ‘cause that’s really what the C-suite is looking to improve. 

Here, we’ve even got some you can steal: 

  • 87% of workers look at the health and wellness packages on offer when choosing an employer
  • 54% of Gen Z-ers and 58% of millennials say company wellness programs play a significant role in their job decisions
  • 45% of employees at small-to-medium sized organizations stay at their jobs longer because they offer structured wellness programs

3. Set clear objectives and metrics

Every wellness program needs metrics to guide it. For your program, you will want to set clear objectives with dedicated metrics that help participants to measure their success. Ask yourself what health goals will benefit your employees. To be successful, choose objectives and metrics that accommodate different health and fitness levels.

Some metrics you’ll want to help your client track from the very start are: 

  • Participation rates: Keep an eye on how many people show up—and how that number changes over time. 
  • Employee retention rates: The number of employees who leave the organization during a fixed period (usually a year.) 
  • Employee satisfaction and engagement. Many firms do regular satisfaction surveys, and you’ll want to get access to the results to prove your impact. 

They’ll do the internal data collection, of course, but you need to know which numbers to watch. 

4. Develop what’s in the program

Your program should serve the working arrangements your client already has in place, and this takes careful development work. Start with a creative brainstorming session once you’ve got a sense for the core programming they want, then start to map it out.

If you’re delivering classes, develop a cadence for how often you’ll train them. Think about which communication channels you’ll use to coordinate with the employees you’re training, and whether you’ll teach in-person or online.

Start to map out 

5. Run a pilot and gather feedback

Soft launches are key. By offering a pilot with select participants, you create the perfect space for feedback. After you’ve run a session or two, ask folks what they thought—and use that to tweak your programming. 

You might find that you need to offer more direct strength training, or that the video software you use to teach remote classes is hard for some participants to use. There’ll be some sort of problem, but that’s an opportunity for growth and adaptation before the full-on launch. 

6. Launch and promote the full program

After your program is designed, tested and ready to go, set a formal launch date! Give yourself some space to prepare any backend resources you might need (like automated reminders in the ABC Trainerize app), and run through your training so you know it like the back of your hand. 

For a successful launch, you’ll want to be sure to spend time promoting the program internally to anyone who can participate. Get key stakeholders promoting your training in the company Slack channels, and record little clips from your training to share in between sessions. That’s how you’ll get folks to show up. 

7. Evaluate and adapt as you go

Your program might be wonderful, but even the best programs have room for improvement. Evaluate your program’s performance as you go, and never stop adapting it. 

You might add different fitness formats, start to offer nutritional coaching, or even break your sessions up so your class sizes are smaller. If your eyes are open, you’ll see what needs changing—and retain your client for the long haul. 

What makes corporate wellness programs successful? 

Here’s some of the organizational supports you’ll need to build a successful corporate wellness program.

1. Executive leadership and support

An employee wellness program is an investment, and that means you will have stakeholders that go pretty high up. Roping in executive leadership and support at all levels is a great way to get the resources and buy-in you need to succeed.

2. Budget to support your program

Even the smallest employee wellness programs have a cost associated with them. Take time to learn about your client’s employee wellness budget so you know exactly what you have to work with—and can plan your programming offer accordingly. 

3. Employee engagement and feedback

The programming you offer is for employees, which means you’ve got to be constantly looking out and asking for feedback. Working that feedback back into your programming will help improve employee experiences during your training sessions, and keep them coming back.  

4. A clear rollout strategy

First impressions last, and the way you launch your program really matters. Take time to plan how you will launch the program and what you will do to generate engagement. An email intro or a few short-form videos in the company will go a long way towards building hype. 

6 examples of effective corporate wellness programs

These are some of the more popular and effective types of corporate wellness programs.

1. On-site fitness classes

These classes happen on-campus and can cover a wide range of exercise interests. By offering a diverse selection of in-person programming, you’ll set yourself up for regular work in your client’s office. 

2. Corporate gym memberships

This’s pretty hands-off, but it’s common. Many companies fund their employees’ gym memberships, so they get to support wellness without the administrative burden of offering training themselves. (We get it, it’s hard.) 

3. Bike-to-work programs

Starting a formal bike-to-work program helps companies keep employees active without… you know, actually investing in net new training. This approach is common, so you should know about it.  

4. Personal training sessions

Trainers: this one’s for you again. Many companies buy blocks of training, so employees can access personalized instruction from experts like you. You’d be working 1:1, with the added complexity of squeezing fitness into the work day. 

5. Sports leagues and teams

Recreational and competitive sports teams build work teams up and get them moving on the regular. Soccer, hocker, softball, and even dance groups can all be a great opportunity to strengthen team dynamics—and folks’ individual fitness levels. 

If you’re experienced at coaching league sports, include this as part of your offer. You just might end up facilitating regular games within your client’s company, or between them and a partner of theirs. (Another potential client, perhaps!) 

6. Walking and running clubs

Walking and running clubs are another low-lift approach to corporate wellness. A sneaky little walk slots right into the workday, and formalizing it as a club is a bone-easy way to create structured health breaks. 

So, what’s next?

At ABC Trainerize, we build tools that make delivering employee wellness programs at scale a breeze. From automatic reminders, to remote video lessons and even nutrition planning, we’ve got everything you’ll need to wow your corporate clients and keep them promoting physical activity in the workplace. When you’re ready, we’re ready. 

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