Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work?
Do workplace wellness programs work? The short answer: yes they do. Although there’s mixed research about whether they pay for themselves, prominent successes show that organizations can make it work for them.
One such company that has succeeded in running workplace wellness initiatives is Netrix. Netrix is an integrated technology services company headquartered in Bannockburn. They do anything from managed IT to network security to web and design services and a lot more. Netrix has a wellness committee, one of many employee-led culture groups within their company that focuses on improving its employees’ lives.
Why Netrix Decided to Run a Workplace Biggest Loser Contest
This past January, Jonathan Eckert, a myTRAINER member since 2013 and Program Management Office Director at Netrix, decided to head up a new project. He wanted to team up with myTRAINER and run a Workplace Biggest Loser competition. The goal was to create a supportive environment for people to obtain their weight loss goals. There are many ways to do a Biggest Loser competition at work. Eckert wanted to offer support and accountability, and wanted to keep the competition friendly.
Netrix offered support to their Biggest Loser participants by holding a kick off meeting and bringing along two wellness experts: myTRAINER’s Keely Knack to help with the fitness side of things and a Jillian Spector, aka the Fitt Chick, a nutrition consultant to help with food and nutrition. Keely offered Biggest Loser participants a special membership deal for the duration of the contest for a big time boost. The eight week program was a big success. We connected with the Biggest Loser team, and here’s some of the advice they had to share:
How to Run a Workplace Biggest Loser Contest
1) Time Your Biggest Loser Contest Right
January and late spring are good times. People are making resolutions with the start of a new year, and later in the spring they might be thinking about vacations and swimsuits—things we associate with the warm summer months
2) Meet with the Planners
Hopefully you have a couple people interested in promoting your workplace Biggest Loser Contest. Meet together and consider the following
- Decide on a precise timeline—something between eight and 12 weeks is good
- Consider the rules of the competition—can someone join after the deadline? Is there a buy-in to enter?
- Will there be public weigh-ins? Will self-measurements be considered?
- What do winners get? Choose prizes: first place only or first, second, and third? Cash or gift card?
- Delegate roles: who’s doing flyers/ graphics, record-keeping, kick-off planner, consider what role (if any) will upper management have in promoting the initiative.
- Are people competing as individuals or teams?
- Partner with fitness experts to boost your contest (like myTRAINER & the Fitt Chick)
3) Recruit Participants
- Make personal invitations—consider a set goal for face-to-face invites (we’ll each ask X people)
- Put up posters, quarter sheet flyers in the office
- Post social media graphics online
- Include it in the company newsletter
- Post it in your company Slack channel/ company chat
- Post it on your corporate intranet
- Email personal invites with sign up link
Don’t forget reminders the week or two before the deadline/ kick off!
4) Kick-Off Meeting
This can be a simple meeting to get people pumped and review rules, or it can be a Lunch and Learn with a guest speaker like Netrix did. Either way, if you’ve held a Workplace Biggest Loser contest before (or maybe a colleague at another company did), include testimonials and success stories to get people motivated to start!
5) Create Touch points—Biggest Loser Challenges
Accountability is a big motivator and key to reaching wellness goals. Create touch points to check in and motivate your team along the way.
- Greet the participants and ask them how their goals are coming along. Congratulate them on progress and encourage them if they’re struggling.
- Give prizes or recognition the number of steps walked, the number of miles people have walked, run or biked.
- Weigh in or progress check ins—feature top participants on social media
- Encourage participants to take/ share pictures of their progress if they want
(Right: Arms day for Jonathan during Netrix’s Biggest Loser challenge.)
6) Closure & Celebration
- Create a certificate—or bonus!—a trophy for the winning person/team.
- Award pre-determined prizes (Netrix’s top prize was a $200 gift card to Whole Foods. Nice!)
- Take pictures!
- Have yummy (healthy) food on the company’s tab
Top Biggest Loser Recommendations
Of all of these recommendations, Netrix’s Eckert considered these three elements to be the keys to a successful workplace Biggest Loser contest: constant communication, providing opportunities to learn how to eat and exercise, and championing people’s accomplishments.
What about you? Have you done a workplace Biggest Loser challenge before? How did it go and what did you learn?
Contact us if you’re interest in partnering for special membership deals for your workplace Biggest Loser contest!
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