An estimated 100 million Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year. For a whole host of reasons, over 90 percent of these resolutions fail.
As someone who is in the business of helping clients and their employees achieve their health and wellness goals every day, I have a sense of what does and does not work when it comes to changing behaviors over the long term. And whether it’s a personal fitness goal or a corporate wellness program, one of the most frequent mistakes I see among both employers and employees is taking too rigid an approach.
Let’s start with employees’ habits. Many begin the new year wanting to get more physical activity in each day, so they set a time and activity and say “no excuses.” But sooner or later, life happens. Kids get sick, so they miss a class—which turns into a week, which turns into a month. The issue is that many force themselves into an activity they do not enjoy, or fail to switch things up. As a result, they get bored or their willpower slackens once the year is in full swing. What’s more, many fitness-related resolutions do not account for the fluidity and unpredictability of life, nor recognize current barriers to success.
Among employers, there are similar tendencies. Too often employers take a one-size-fits-all approach to helping employees meet their health and wellness goals. And they end up with programs designed to be easily accessible and applicable mainly for in-office employees who work traditional office hours. The most often neglected employees include those who work remotely, have an unusual schedule or travel often, and those who work for companies with geographically dispersed offices.
As employees evaluate habits and attempt to stick to new fitness goals in the new year, employers are uniquely positioned to remove barriers and help employees more easily meet their goals. And virtual fitness can play a key role in this process.
Recent research found that employees who do not participate in their company’s wellness programs choose not to do so most often because they find it inconvenient, lack information about the company’s offerings, do not feel supported by their employer or are generally reluctant, and in some cases, have privacy concerns. Virtual fitness can help lessen some of these barriers. Here’s how:
Convenient and easily accessible for all. Virtual fitness allows employers to scale their wellness initiatives by offering fitness classes, workout plans, and assessments they can stream across mobile and web-based applications, anytime and anywhere. With virtual fitness comes greater flexibility, allowing employers to reach employees who have previously been difficult to engage and support in their wellness goals. Research also found that among employees who do not participate in their company’s wellness programs, 53 percent do not participate because it is inconvenient or they lack support from their employer. Virtual fitness can help employers struggling to engage their remote employees and workers who travel often or keep irregular schedules by putting the options into their hands and making it as easy as possible to participate.
Additionally, by putting classes, fitness plans, and assessments into the hands of employees via tablets and mobile devices, employers remove any barrier to information about the program. Employees are given the opportunity for self-guided and self-directed learning, as well as the necessary structure for many to achieve their new goals.
More privacy and opportunity for family involvement. Some employees are reluctant to participate in wellness offerings due to privacy concerns. With virtual fitness, employees can access information when and where it’s convenient for them. While many employees are eager to connect with colleagues in a fitness class, others are reluctant or self-conscious, especially when starting a new program. Virtual fitness offerings help remove this barrier by allowing employees to get all the benefits of the company’s fitness programming from the comfort of their home or corporate fitness center during non-peak hours. And virtual fitness includes educational tutorials to guide participants through the terminology, moves, and equipment used for the format. Virtual fitness also allows employees to work out with their families, making it more convenient and enjoyable to participate as a group.
Endless customization opportunities. Today’s employees want and expect customized experiences in everything they do. With virtual fitness, employees can completely customize their experience and switch things up to keep it fresh—which is another key to any fitness-related goal. For example, employees at our clients’ sites take advantage of a range of classes including yoga, Pilates, spinning, kickboxing, sculpting and kinetics, prenatal classes, dance and step classes. And because classes range in length and skill level, employees can fit fitness into their day and stay motivated more easily.
Virtual fitness also provides “office breaks” to help employees counteract the detrimental effects of sitting at work with 1- to 8-minute activities that won’t disturb their work flow or require a change of clothes. Done several times a day, it’s easy for employees to accumulate 30 minutes of exercise a day!
For many of us, the beginning of the year brings colder temperatures, darker mornings, fuller schedules, and more work travel. It’s probably the most difficult time to start a new program, become more consistent with exercise, or generally bring our fitness to the next level. Employers that take the initiative to help employees make progress in their unique fitness goals (and make it easy for all employees to do so) will soon find themselves reaching their own wellness program goals for participation and engagement in 2017 and beyond.
For more workplace wellness strategies, see 2017 Technology Trends For Well-Being In The Workplace.