4 reasons why most wellbeing programs fail


4 reasons why most wellbeing programs fail. The alarming increase of burn-out cases and the general rise of awareness of corporate wellbeing has led a lot of organisations to implement a wellbeing program. Yet, as these programs are relatively new, a lot of them still lack in maturity and in corporate knowledge. A lot of wellbeing programs are based on individual coaching programs, without taking into account how a company actually works, with its very own identity, decision making processes and interpersonal dynamics.

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What we have noticed in the past two years, is that a lot of these programs fail, mainly because of 4 reasons why most wellbeing programs fail:

  1. They only focus on one aspect (too often on sports and movement), without taking into account people who are triggered by other interests. People who are already into sports don’t need an incentive from their employer. In most cases, people who dislike sports will not be triggered by the employer’s initiative and there’s a chance that they might feel intimidated or even misunderstood. The effect could be totally reverse. The employer becomes frustrated because his program isn’t successful and he thinks his employees are ungrateful. Talking about miscommunication…
  2. The measures are taken top-down only and don’t leave space for accountability of the coworkers. Wellbeing is comprehensive; it really doesn’t make a difference between private life and work life. It may sound a bit harsh for some, but it’s the naked truth. People have to become aware of the fact that they’re responsible for their own wellbeing and not blame their own unbalance exclusively on external factors like their employer.
  3. The management doesn’t set the tone by giving the example. When employees feel that wellbeing becomes a key success factor for their management, they will start to copy that behavior. That’s when you get true wellbeing Ambassadors and the wellbeing program becomes part of the daily routine. Balanced employees are more productive employees. Sorry to say so. But it’s actually not cool to work 80 hours a week all year round. It’s also totally uncool to multitask and not being able to focus. And it’s sooo 2000 if you lack sleep or lose contact with your family for a longer period of time. Why?  Because your productivity cannot be high at this pace all the time.
  4. The program is not supported by a platform and a wellbeing coach that measure progress, give nudges for the right behavior. A platform in combination with a real-time specialist should also be holistic. Unfortunately, the vast majority of platforms only focus on physical wellbeing (counting steps or miles). A good start, but too limited and short-term.

In implementing a wellbeing and engagement program, we need to take into account the different backgrounds and interests of the employees. What works for one person, might not have an added value for the other. Wellbeing might be a strict diet for person x, while the other is more interested in sports. From our experience, wellbeing is more about BALANCE than anything else. A balance based upon 4 pillars: Mental, Physical, Nutritional and Social Balance.

Corporate wellbeing, corporate identity, employee engagement and even CSR are intrinsically connected. At Herculean we believe that a program with people driven events/workshops/activities and regular larger events supported by a platform to measure progress can help organisations transform and people grow.

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