Corporate Wellness: It's Not a Program It's a Culture

Contributor:  Avi Singer
Posted:  05/28/2010  12:00:00 AM EDT
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Undertone Networks the employer I have been fortunate enough to work for the past year and a half, doesn’t have an official corporate wellness program.

That is not to say we don’t pay 100 percent of our employees’ medical insurance premiums, offer significant gym membership reimbursements, provide laptops for all employees so they can work from home and have a generous sick day allowance. We do all of that, and more including: free on-site massages, free healthy snacks, host  expert health and wellness speakers and ensure that our insurance broker is in the office weekly to help employees choose providers and work through questions. While some may call these efforts a corporate wellness program, we consider it part of our corporate philosophy – and responsibility.

Early in my career, I worked with a company that desperately wanted to be recognized on a “Best Places to Work” list of some kind. As part of the company’s corporate wellness program, it offered every workplace initiative you could possibly have in corporate America—mentoring, women’s leadership programs, and job sharing to name a few. It was my job to figure out why a company with all these great initiatives was never included on a list.

After interviewing dozens of employees, I discovered that most of the programs were just a façade with some clever marketing for show. In truth, most of the initiatives were not embraced by the company’s management, and worse yet, employees were unable to take advantage of them. Sure, the company reimbursed for gym membership dues, but with no manageable work-life balance who could take advantage of it? Employees could telecommute, but in the company’s culture, less face time often resulted in limited advancement opportunities. Is this really corporate wellness?

What I’ve found is that corporate wellness is not a program – it’s a culture. In order to be an employer of choice you need to make a company-wide commitment to be the very best employer possible. If your senior management sincerely embraces this endeavor and maintains open dialogue with employees, you don’t need fancy, branded programs with clever marketing. Corporate wellness becomes part of the company’s culture.

Undertone embraces this culture by providing the very best benefits, opportunities and resources. In return, employees are happy, healthy, and provide the very best work and results for the company.

To stay connected, we survey our employees biannually and always ask “What more can Undertone do for you?” We ask in different several ways and in multiple categories to ensure that we know exactly what we can do for our employees. In turn, our employees provide clear guidance as to what they need from the company to thrive. Over the years, we’ve enhanced medical benefits, shortened standard work hours, organized company sports teams, and more as a result of direct feedback we received from employees.

At Undertone, our goal is to be the employer of choice not only for employees but also potential candidates. I’m really proud to part of a company that takes a holistic approach to corporate wellness and happy to see that it’s making a difference. Recently, one of our veteran recruiters told me that she just had a candidate decline a job offer for the first time in more than two years! That’s nearly unheard of! And for the last two years, Undertone has been included on the Crain’s New York Business list of Best Places to Work in New York.

Corporate wellness is much more than just a program at Undertone – it’s a culture. And it shows.

First published on Human Resources IQ

Avi Singer Contributor:   Avi Singer


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