Buck Reports Factors for Successful Global Wellness Programs

October 11, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Although workplace wellness programs are growing rapidly worldwide, lack of employee trust and buy-in are among the greatest potential impediments to the programs’ success, a report found.

Senior management must be convinced that workplace health promotion and wellness programs provide value to the business, such as boosting employee productivity or improving safety, according to a report by Buck Consultants.

“Wellness programs cannot survive in today’s economy without a strong linkage to business goals and high levels of employee participation and engagement,” said Barry Hall, principal at Buck Consultants. “Although many organizations have achieved some success with single-country programs in the United States or elsewhere, the challenges of globalizing these programs are significant, due to differing cultures, attitudes, regulations and business practices around the world.”

The report, “Winning Strategies in Global Workplace Health Promotion: A study of leading organizations,” includes eight success factors for implementing global health promotion, based on major commonalities among the 13 participating companies. Some of these factors are: 

  • Focus on value: Articulate a value proposition that has sufficient emphasis on health and well-being factors, in addition to the financial business case. A successful strategy recognizes that employee health and well-being is a desirable corporate asset that impacts recruitment, retention, engagement and productivity. 
  • Communicate goals and benefits: Spend adequate time and effort explaining to employees the reasons, goals and benefits for providing a health promotion program. Recognize that not every employee accepts the notion that their employer should be concerned about or involved in their personal health and lifestyle, especially in countries where health benefits are state provided. 
  • Leverage personal connections: Engage local resources for cultural adaptation and implementation. Success requires a balance between global strategy and local autonomy. Programs managed by local staff with personal connections will outperform those that are activated through central corporate offices.

The research also revealed that all organizations had senior-level support serving as a strong organizational driver in health promotion strategies, according to Wolf Kirsten, president of International Health Consulting (IHC), which partnered with Buck for research.

Additional research examines regional and cultural challenges, employee communication strategies, the use of technology in wellness, the influence of corporate culture, motivating and measuring employee participation, tracking global program metrics and scorecards, and emerging areas of focus in global health promotion.  

The report profiled 13 large multinational employers, such as Intel, Novartis and Chevron, representing more than one million employees, to study workplace health promotion programs. The full report is available for $200 from Buck’s Global Survey Resources, and can be ordered at http://www.bucksurveys.com.