Since I co-founded Gympass, there’s one question that I have been asked more than any other: “How do you motivate employees to actually get more active? What’s the secret to creating a healthy workplace?”

The secret to driving sustainable employee behavior change is… that it’s not a secret. Establishing a culture of health that aligns with your company’s core values requires strategic decision making and a joint commitment from senior leaders.

There is considerable evidence that encouraging health as a part of a company’s culture is key to a wellness program’s success. When a company’s leadership commits to fostering a culture of health, the employees tend to become more engaged in the effort to improve their own wellbeing.

Ideally, all levels of leadership should actively take part in boosting employee health. Leadership (as it relates to work tasks) is just one aspect of an executive’s responsibility.

How should executives handle corporate wellness? How should leaders create a healthy workplace for their employees? Below, I’ve shared a few of my favorite ways to set your healthy workplace initiative up for success.

Define What A Healthy Workplace Looks Like

How healthy is your staff? If you want an employee wellness program that is effective and that meets the needs of all workers, a full understanding of your employees’ health status is critical. 

A simple focus is a crucial element in successful employee wellness programs. Simplicity is as vital for a program geared towards a reduction in physical work-related health problems as it is for one designed to prevent burnout. It is your job to maintain the program’s focus.

Once the objectives are clear, you can stay on the path to achieving them. Use multiple approaches such as combinations of alternative and clinical methods to meet the needs of your staff. 

Lead by Example

The health of an organization’s leadership is all too often a reflection of the health of the rest of the company. Unfit, stressed executives rarely signal a vital, high-performing organization.

The foundation of health-focused company culture is leadership that exemplifies a healthy lifestyle, including the right balance of work and personal life.

Successful employee wellness programs have leaders who visibly participate. You want your employees to see that you prioritize wellness all the way up the ranks to the most senior management.

While some leaders may have a natural inclination to live active and healthy lives, others may need to make adjustments in these respects. Not only should company leaders be role models, but they should also be held accountable when they fail to set an example for their employees.  

For example, to demonstrate our commitment and belief in Gympass’ mission, we schedule a morning workout class into our global and regional leadership summits.

Similarly, when we travel for meetings we make it a point to schedule a workout with our clients or prospects so they can experience Gympass first-hand.

Create Healthy Workplace Awards

Publicly recognizing employees when they pursue healthy workplace initiatives is an excellent way for leaders to support a company’s wellness program. Failing to communicate a focus on health clearly and often will limit buy-in from your team. The commitment of resources is another way for management to communicate priorities.

When the company is willing to dedicate funds and time to promote wellness among employees, this is a sign to employees that leaders have made employee health a priority.

You can send the right message by investing in equipment like adjustable desks to give workers the option to stand for a part of their workday.

Provide a Wide Variety of Options

It is common to see a large portion of an employee population engage with a wellness program at first only to see a rapid drop off soon after. Prevent this by using fun challenges to incentivize participation. 

Incorporate a flexible fitness plan into your employee benefits package. Getting employees active can be a challenge, especially those who aren’t interested in working out, but it is well worth the effort.

One way I like to do this is to host active company events, like a local hike or a high-intensity yoga class. #WellnessWednesdays are very big in the Gympass office!

A Healthy Workforce Creates a Happy, Productive Culture

According to a study in the Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, employees with healthy lifestyles not only are more productive, but they will also have higher morale and lower rates of absenteeism.

Successful leaders understand that the time to embrace a holistic, flexible approach to employee health and wellness is now. Only when wellness is embedded within your company’s core culture will your organization’s potential be realized.

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