Wellness Programs: Fit For Opportunity

 

Helping clients create a wellness-focused environment and a corporate culture emphasizing health and wellness requires much more than just choosing health-related promotional products, such as syringe pens.

Tom Goos, MAS, PPAI immediate past chair and president of distributor Image Source, Inc., astutely notes that the objective of a wellness program is to keep people away from syringes and pill boxes. These are certainly useful promotional products and they have a valuable place with many audiences, but establishing a wellness program requires more than clever products.

Rising healthcare costs and an uncertainty about the future of health insurance are concerns affecting everyone. As a result, companies have become increasingly interested in implementing wellness programs for their employees. While there are obvious benefits to a healthy workforce, businesses also recognize the positive effect a healthy team has on the company’s bottom line.  

Corporate wellness programs are a nearly $8 billion industry in the U.S., and the industry is expected to grow by almost eight percent through 2021. Worldwide, the industry is worth $40 billion, according to the Global Wellness Institute, but only about nine percent of the global workforce has access to workplace wellness programs.   

This presents a prime opportunity for distributors to create wellness programs for their clients, and it opens markets for suppliers who manufacture and decorate products that can serve as reminders and incentives, and carry a program's message. 

The booming wellness market also creates an ongoing opportunity for smart and committed distributors who are able to invest time in building client relationships and generate sales opportunities to become their clients’ go-to resource for implementing these programs.

Winning this type of client business requires more than just knowing how to sell products. It involves a deeper level of engagement, teaching clients the benefits of wellness programs and how to foster and manage a health-focused environment within their company. By acting as a consultant, not only are you positioned to sell more products that reinforce their brand, but you are seen as a valued expert in your clients’ eyes by helping them achieve a healthier lifestyle that will pay off with fewer sick days and lower insurance premiums, as well as more productivity by healthier and happier employees. With this approach, you are demonstrating your commitment to your clients’ long-term success. That is a game-changing relationship builder that is hard to replace.

What Is A Wellness Program?

A wellness program is built on a corporate culture where the employer encourages employees to engage in a healthier lifestyle through activities and challenges. These include positive changes in nutrition, weight-control and exercise, but they can also extend into overall health and quality-of-life improvements such as tobacco cessation and health screenings. Information is usually shared with employees in a variety of formats such as brown bag presentations, videos, brochures, signage, health assessments, display boards and other methods. 

There is no cookie-cutter approach to creating a wellness program. Each program will develop its own distinctive personality based on a variety of factors including the number of employees, the company’s budget and the program’s goals. It takes a savvy distributor to evaluate a client’s needs and then develop a program and product mix to best meet their requirements. But don’t let the challenge of doing something different deter you from pursuing these lucrative business opportunities. You can rest easy knowing there are tools available to help you facilitate these programs.  

Steps To Help Clients  Create A Culture of Wellness

1. Believe in the value of wellness programs for your clients. Your first step is gaining confidence that a wellness program is a smart move for your client. If you don’t buy into why this investment of time and dollars is positive for them, they won’t either. 

2. Determine who to approach. In larger companies, the program will likely be handled by the Human Resources department. In smaller companies, owners or managers will make the decision to implement a wellness program. 

3. Get buy-in. The program will need management backing to be successful. Share the benefits of wellness programs with company decision makers. If the company’s leadership shows they are on board, their buy-in will encourage employees to participate. Most leaders will understand that what you are proposing is a good thing, but they likely have no clue how to implement the program and will look to you for guidance. Show them how encouraging healthier improvements in their employee’s lives will positively affect more than just their bottom line.

4. Offer solutions that involve people. An important part of any wellness program includes setting challenges and goals, as well as tracking changes and improvements. A company may feel this is more than they want to take on, or that they don’t have the staff to handle it. 

One part of the solution is to show how employees can be empowered to play a role in facilitating the program once it is designed. In a company of any size, there will be runners, cyclists, hikers and active people who will welcome the opportunity to help manage the program and encourage others to participate. They will also likely have suggestions and ideas to create engagement that will be valuable to everyone.

The second part of the solution is offering to manage the program for a fee. The cost to the client is based on the size of the company and how much of the program you will be executing. This fee could range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars per month.

5. Determine goals and benchmarks. The program should have measurable goals with the focus being on nutrition benchmarks, measured weight loss or general fitness goals in which exercise activity is documented. A successful wellness program is often a combination of several of these. 

The program can also include quarterly or semiannual wellness challenges that take place over a period of four to six weeks and involve teams, individual goals or both. Individual goals should be respected, and group goals should help everyone succeed. Short-term challenges and ongoing positive lifestyle changes are also important in changing health-related behaviors among employees. 

Providing healthier food choices in the break room or cafeteria, defining a walking route that can be completed over a lunch hour, encouraging preventative medical checks and similar elements will also support employees’ wellness efforts. 

Creating a supportive community is also part of building a wellness culture. Typically, the least healthy 20 percent of employees are driving 80 percent of healthcare costs within a company, and that 20 percent are historically least likely to participate. The program should be focused on everyone’s wellbeing with the overall understanding that the company wants to see employees practice healthy habits for their own good, not just for the good of the company. Encouragement and incentives will help support the culture the program is working to create.

6. Determine the types of products you will use. The choice of promotional products used will, in part, be determined by the company’s goals and budget. Once it has been determined what the company wants to accomplish with the wellness program, you can help them identify the motivational and reminder products.

7. Create an opportunity for engagement. It's easier to succeed when everyone works together. Consider a wellness-focused website, blog or online group to post successes and help employees to encourage and support one another. 

8. Evaluate the results. At intervals or at the end of a challenge, those managing the program should assess the results. A simple survey and data evaluation can give a company valuable information that can be used to assess the program and enhance wellness efforts going forward. Did employees enjoy participating? How many dropped out? Were there fewer sick days? Did productivity or morale improve? What worked and what didn’t work? Wellness is not a one-time program, but a lifetime of choices. 

How Promo Companies Are Walking The Talk

Distributor and supplier companies can model their client programs for their own teams, and many are getting on board by adding healthful activities to their events. Consider this example: A SuccessFit4Life! FUN Run/Walk was added to the schedule at the 2017 HALO Branded Solutions national sales meeting in June in Nashville. Terry McGuire, senior vice president of marketing, sums up the experience: “HALO has a corporate culture that encourages people to be active. We realize that this is beneficial to our teams’ personal and professional lives.” 

Seth Weiner, MAS, president of Sonic Promos, explains his view: “Implementing an effective promotional marketing program is vital to the overall success of health and wellness programs. Whether they are being used to introduce, reinforce or reward, you have multiple touch points that not only help to tell the story of your program but also assist in measuring its results.”

Dana Zezzo, vice president of sales and marketing at IMAGEN Brands, sees the movement not only as a lifestyle that’s here to stay but an opportunity for product expansion. “IMAGEN Brands believes in wellness lifestyles internally, and on a national level as a growing industry,” he says. “We see the future path in wellness trends and the correlation
of pulling promotional products into it. Therefore, IMAGEN Brands is investing in this category as this trend will continue for the next three to five years. Not only are we dedicated to our long-term product development strategy, we are proud of our current unique product offering.”

Brian Porter, vice president of north American sales at Pro Towels, adds, “Across the entire Pro Towels family, we’ve fully embraced the health and wellness market, not only as a growing trend, but as a way of life. The long-term benefits for individuals and companies go well beyond the ROI of the imprint, but leave a legacy of happy, healthy employees. From the launch of our Clean Freek products years ago, to our continued product development in this field, we are fully dedicated. Health and wellness are here to stay, and we’re proud to continue to help companies promote it.”

Gain a Competitive Advantage

Implementing a wellness program will take some effort on the distributor’s part, but that’s the beauty of focusing on this market. Not every distributor is willing to do what is needed and a wellness program is not a commodity product that can be purchased online—it needs a promotional expert to develop and implement it. 

For those distributors interested in moving their business in this direction, wellness programs offer an excellent opportunity to provide a worthwhile service in addition to new products, making you even more valuable to your client.

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Run or Walk For A Good Cause At Expo

For the past three years, SuccessFit4Life! has organized a FUN Run/Walk at The PPAI Expo, and it continues in 2018. Everyone at any fitness level is invited to meet outside the front doors of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center at 7 am on January 15. There is no cost. Run or walk as far as you like. Get a group together from your company. The world-famous Welcome To Las Vegas sign is a favorite selfie spot and is just a half-mile away. The event is an excellent way to kick off a productive Expo week.

A group of industry suppliers is supporting this event by providing SuccessFit4Life! branded products. For a suggested $25 donation to the Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF), participants will get a goodie bag of products. To participate, go to the SuccessFit4Life’s PPEF donation page at https://buff.ly/2zMtF6a and make your donation. Gifts of all sizes are welcome. Donate $100 and become a member of the PPEF Century Club. The first 250 participants who bring their donation receipt to the DistributorCentral booth #4465 on the show floor can pick up their goodie bag during show hours. 

Special thanks to these companies who embrace what SuccessFit4Life! is all about and are supporting this fundraising effort: 

Fields Manufacturing
HandStands Promo
Symbio Promotions
Imagen Brands
Southern Plus
BIC Graphic
SnugZ USA
ProTowels
Alexander
Ad-A-Day
P 3 Pro Performance Products
The Magnet Group
CPS/Keystone
Indiana Metal Craft

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Jeff Solomon, MAS, is the publisher of FreePromoTips, a PPAI-award winning business resource. His distributor business is affiliated with HALO Branded Solutions (PPAI 106462). With over 20 years of industry experience, he has a passion for networking and helping others. Based on his own health journey, Solomon created SuccessFit4Life!, an innovative program that encourages others to seek a healthier lifestyle. jeff@freepromotips.com

 

 

Comments (2)
Tina Filipski
December 5, 2017
The Fit4Life run is Monday, January 15--thanks for alerting us to this typo. We'll fix it on the online story. The dates you show for the Expo are correct. Glad you liked the article!
Debbie
December 4, 2017
Thanks for the very timely article! Re: Jan. 9 2018 Fun Run...is that the correct date? The show dates are 1/14-1/18, correct?
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