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It’s no secret good physical health is directly tied to better mental wellness and job performance. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning and judgment skills sharp as you age.”

Since sharp thinking skills correlate to better job performance, it’s in any company’s best interest to encourage good health and well-being practices in its employees. To meet this need by providing a place for local employees to improve their quality of life, it’s worth implementing — or taking a second look at — a corporate wellness program at your facility.

“Any company can absolutely find value in corporate wellness, because a healthy, happy employee base leads to better productivity,” said Donny Bautz, the senior executive director of the Waltham YMCA, a branch of the YMCA of Greater Boston. “Employees have a chance to be involved and active, and they get to be part of that Y community.”

According to John Blomstedt, the executive director of the Montgomery County Family YMCA in Red Oak, Iowa, providing the opportunity for local employees to be physically active is a key part of his organization’s mission. “The most important thing is the increase in employees’ physical and mental well-being,” he said.

An additional benefit of corporate wellness programs is lower insurance costs for participating companies. According to the CDC, active individuals are less susceptible to chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, depression, anxiety, Type 2 diabetes and dementia, which means companies with active employee bases should have fewer doctor visits.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or adjusting an existing program, success in corporate wellness requires one crucial first step. “It starts with relationships,” said Bautz. “What does the company need from the Y? We let them know what our offerings are, and match up what works for both organizations.”

While traditional and digital marketing can be effective methods for communicating the benefits of your corporate wellness program, a face-to-face meeting goes a long way in establishing necessary relationships.

For the Montgomery County Y, face-to-face meetings played a critical role in the early growth of its corporate wellness programs. “We held lunch and learn sessions when the program was first starting to get the word out,” said Blomstedt. “It’s about getting them to understand how the program works and what is available.”

Direct contact still plays a big role in the Montgomery County Y’s program. According to Blomstedt, the association’s membership manager contacts local businesses to gauge their interest in the program, especially when they hear of management or ownership changes. Needs change constantly, so actively and consistently reaching out to local businesses to share how your program can serve them is critical to sustained success.

However, communicating the benefits of your corporate wellness program to a company’s employees is only half the battle. Getting them through the doors is often the greatest challenge. “The urgency is the biggest challenge,” said Bautz. “Is it a priority? Do employees find value in it?”

There are many ways to incentivize employees to participate in corporate wellness programs, and the most common one is offering a discounted rate to members of the program. At the Montgomery County Y, participants in the corporate wellness program receive a 10% reduction in membership fees, do not have to pay the joiner fee, get into exercise classes for free and get reduced costs on youth programs.

“We have also been doing a promo where we offer employees a free three-month membership to get their family and them into the facility to see what is offered,” said Blomstedt.

Through marketing campaigns, lunch and learn meetings and promos that get people in the facility, it’s critical to get the word out there. After all, compared to youth and family programs, Group X classes and active aging adult offerings, corporate wellness programs aren’t exactly top-of-mind in the industry.

Nonetheless, they are extremely beneficial for local businesses and provide a viable revenue stream, so they should be part of your facility’s offerings. “It’s just making sure people are educated and made aware of the partnership their company has with our Y and the benefits you’ll see if you do join,” said Bautz.

No matter how you structure your corporate wellness program, communication with local businesses and an emphasis on keeping their employees healthy will set your facility up for success.

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Bobby Dyer

Taylor Brown is a staff writer for Community Rec Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com.

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