Most companies these days have some sort of health and wellness program. Whether altruistic or not these company sponsored programs encourage employees to get fit by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, exercising and seeking proper health care to prevent major diseases. Ultimately the goal is to reduce corporate healthcare costs. The healthier the employee, the healthier the corporate bottom line.
Statistics about the effectiveness of these programs vary. Programs that directly change a behavior like smoking cessation show to be more beneficial than broad campaigns to exercise, lose weight and eat better. Even though the jury is still out on these programs, its full steam ahead.
Don’t get me wrong. I get it! I’d rather participate in a wellness program while my company expands margins, as opposed to having a beer belly and a pink slip. I appreciate a company that will encourage me to eat better and exercise so I can keep my job and get a cash bonus.
I find though that corporate sponsored events that encourage fun and exercise garner greater returns than giving gift cards for a weight loss competition. These events can be a time to relax, make new friends and maybe even get some new ideas for a project.
Just this past week, I attended a corporate bowling event. We were grouped into teams with co-workers outside of our own departments. While I certainly was familiar with everyone on my team, I did not know them well. Which for me is ok because I never have a problem striking up a conversation with a stranger.
For three hours, we bowled two games, rolled gutter balls, chatted, cheered, booed, ate and drank. It was fun. It was enjoyable. It was team building. It was a good way to exercise for the benefit of everyone. And guess what, we never once considered this as health and wellness!
While I am no bowling professional, nor am I very competitive, I had a great time. I was able to have conversations with people from other work groups about their projects, their families and their interests outside of work. Most importantly, I was able to share with others what I do, as there always seems to be some ambiguity about marketing.
“So… you’re in marketing?”
“You Facebook and Tweet and stuff like that?”
Anyway… after chit chat over salad and chicken tenders, it occurred to me that relaxing and laughing should be a part of every corporate wellness program. Health and wellness isn’t just a blood pressure check or mammogram screening. It’s not just counting calories and quitting smoking. It’s about building a report with people whom we spend a lot of time, often in stressful, deadline driven circumstances. These events encourage a type of priceless loyalty and warm fuzzy feeling that says my company cares about me enough to allow some play time.
These moments can’t be quantified with data and spreadsheets to show their effectiveness on health and wellness. Nonetheless they have an immeasurable impact on how we feel about our employer. And that, my friends, pays lifetime dividends.
So it goes…