Challenging CEOs to Lead the Way to Wellness
We know the importance of role models in the lives of children. What about for your employees? How important is it that the executive leadership in your organization engage in the healthy behaviors you are trying to promote?
Implementing a company wellness program, when successful, can result in tangible benefits to the organization including up to 27% reduction in sick days and 26% decrease in health-care premiums. Whether it's a smoking cessation program, an on-site gym, wellness newsletters or any of the creative options now being developed, a wellness program makes good sense for you and for your employees.
However, a recently released research brief gives critical insight into how to avoid wasting precious resources and to significantly raise the probability of a program's success. Researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change, conducting the study for the National Institute for Health Care Reform, concluded that these programs can't simply be "one size fits all" for organizations. And as with any company strategy or objective, successful wellness programs must have key senior leadership involvement or they may fail.
Last month, in the instant polling on our website we asked the question: "Does your CEO participate in your organization's wellness programs?" While this was not a scientific study, the results are interesting in light of the above recommendation.
It appears that the majority of our respondents (about 60 percent) are not seeing that their organization's wellness program is integral in their CEO's life. Though the reality of participation may differ, clearly an important factor in this is that the executive as its champion must be communicating effectively. If the employees are unaware of or do not believe that the CEO is personally dedicated to a healthier lifestyle and is involved, the opportunity to lead is lost.
Some insightful leaders have been ahead of the curve in understanding the need to personally invest in their program as a role model. John Sall, co-founder and Executive Vice President of SAS, is a regular at the company pool and fitness center. Add to this his annual "Spin for Life" challenge to employees that raises money for the American Cancer Society and creates awareness and support for corporate fitness.
Marc LeBaron, CEO of Lincoln Industries, is another executive who communicates his support for wellness by challenging employees. In this case, those who participate in 75 percent of their wellness programs are invited to a group experience which includes a climb of a 14,000 foot Colorado mountain.
Granted, these executives are exemplary. Your CEO can simply be a participant and communicate that within the organization. Engagement in the development of the program is also key.
To fully realize the value of your wellness program, blend the best of the available ideas and practices which fit your organization in collaboration with a senior executive who can inspire.
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