Wellness at Work: What Matters Most.

HLW Round Table events are established to foster thought provoking discussions on themes relevant to our workplace. Various guests gathered at our latest Round Table last week at theCarriage House at 5 Giralda Farms in Madison, NJ to hear from experts and their peers on the topic of Wellness in the Workplace. The discussion revolved around how organizations are incorporating Wellness that enable healthy and happy work environments.

HLW’s Director of Strategy and Discovery Liz Burow led a discussion with several guest panelists from various organizations: Bill Bourque, President at EXOS | MediFit, Nicole Feneli, Director of Nutrition and Wellness at FLIK, Ilene O’Donnell, Talent Acquisitions at UPS Information Services, and Scott Leister, Managing Director at KCG Holdings.

Big Insights:

The key insights that emerged from our dynamic conversation shed light on how innovativeorganizations are incorporating wellness into their workplace. The panel discussion shared new approaches, innovations, best practices, and lessons learned.

What matters most to people when we think about the affordances that health and wellness bring to the workplace? Displaying an interactive banner in the beginning of the Round Table, we asked those attending to visualize what matters most. Here are the top 3:

1.    Promoting Active Design /Fitness

2.    Incorporating Natural Light and Views

3.    Providing Agency for User comfort

“Make it easy, active, and engaging”

When it comes to getting people involved in fitness or active design, no one equation enablesthis behavior. Everyone is different. Some may be inspired to part-take through incentives. Others may see value in participation though building comradery. Whether the opportunity is an organized one or an emergent approach, the key aspect is to provide user-friendly tactics to allow various scales of engagement. At EXOS MediFit, Bill Bourque mentioned that they observed gym behavior to understand how people interact with fitness equipment. By doing so, they discovered that actually laying out gym equipment by user level and not by its similarity, can get people who are novices to participate. In addition, by locating the beginner equipment near the entrance to the fitness center and the advanced ones further in the room, the space is more inviting for those who might be intimidated to start.

Keep the process transparent - even the smallest details can be a big deal.

Nicole Feneli shared a story of when a company they worked with decided to switch their tuna salad mayonnaise to non-fat without notifying employees of the change, there was an uproar. Asking employees what matters to them and visualizing and communicating these changes (no matter how small) are crucial during transitioning times. If change needs to occur, organizations need to explain why it is happening and how it ties into a bigger vision of health and wellness, not to be mistaken with a cost cutting effort.

“Happiness = Wellness. It’s all about the FLOW.”

How do companies retain great talent? According to Ilene O’Donnell at UPS, wellness has beenbaked into their mission statement from 1907 and has been alive ever since! When leadership is involved, it becomes a part of cultural norms. It’s not about return on investment anymore, it’s a value the company holds collectively. So when UPS conducts employee satisfaction surveys every year to understand employee needs, they feel a sense of worth that leads to happiness. And this happiness even extends to social responsibility as people start giving back to their local community. Indirectly, she says that happiness lends itself to well-being - this is a constant flow that generates a positive feedback loop that has a powerful impact on a company’s culture.

Scott Leister also added that KCG has provided various engagements with their users through visualization banners and individual surveys. In preparation for their upcoming move to their new headquarters, KCG is conducting a taste tasting with coffee and food to elicit feedback from employees to capture what matters most.

“Build an ecosystem around fitness and food.”

Bill also shared with us about his most progressive client, Franklin Square, was designing food intake and workouts for their employees to reflect their workflow during the year. Some individuals might train differently before a big pitch or change their meals based on their schedule. Customization empowers individuals to recognize the importance of their lifestyle in a more integrated approach. 

 “People like eating healthy food, but they end up choosing the least healthy, healthy food.”

On a similar note, Nicole shared with us that everyone is a foodie these days. They are informed on how to cook; source local ingredients, looking for variety of options and different experiences. Companies have started to provide pop-upkitchens at work to provide hands on learning as a way to carry healthy eating habits beyond the office and into the home. However, she also mentioned that people think they like to eat healthy but end up choosing the most unhealthy foods amongst the healthy options. No one wants to compromise taste for healthy options. So even if it’s healthy, you have to make the food flavorful and exciting to consume.

A big thank you to our panelists and partners at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank and Lincoln Equities Group for your support! See you all at the next Round Table!