According to Andres Traslavina, Global Head of Recruiting for Whole Foods Market, a leader needs two traits to be successful: They must have a vision, and then the ability to inspire others to believe in that vision. That’s why creating a shared vision for wellness at your company is so key. Not only must you see it, but the collective team must also see it and believe in it. And when you have both the leadership and employees on board, you’ve successfully created an environment that is supportive of the healthy change you’re looking to make.

Get leadership on board.

It is important that your leadership team understands and believes in the wellness program because at the end of the day the investment being made here is company dollars. Even if we’re not working with a big budget, your leadership team will always be thinking in terms of, “If we give x, what do we get?” So, before you walk into the meeting with your executive team, come armed with a “why”, and a proposed “how.” This is where your previous work of prioritizing will come in handy. Take those top 5 new habits you want to create for your healthy culture, and put them into a short, smart presentation (or simply create an agenda to have a conversation around-- whatever style your company takes to best). Your presentation should include, “Where we are today, why creating a healthier culture is a big opportunity for us, and here’s how I plan to create a solution.” Some key stats to consider including are amount of sick days, cost of health insurance claims, moral of the office, and the effects you’re seeing from stress. Assuming your team is on board with optimizing your company into a healthier culture, they will then want to know next steps--which is your #2 below.

Learn about your team.

Before you begin your program, it’s time to learn as much as you can about what your team’s wants and needs are -- on paper. You did the initial work of creating a hypothesis for your wellness program priorities, and now it’s time to test it by running a survey. There are three reasons this is very important. First, you really want to hear directly from your team on what their wellness goals are because often times there are sleeping giants that are not detectable. For example, at Wellshift, we’ve seen a majority of employee wellness statuses such as a feeling of “low energy”, or “lack of sleep”. Secondly, the only way you will really know if your wellness program is successful is to put metrics against your starting point. The third and very important reason you should run a survey is that it makes your employees a part of the process of creating this program. They will feel listened to, and cared for, and this transparency will make all the difference when you roll out your plan.

Okay, now that you’re on board with running a survey, there are two kinds of surveys you can consider: Health Risk Assessments (referred to as HRA’s), and a general “what do you want and need” survey. I recommend you combine them into one survey. With a little research, you find HRA's online to model your survey off of. Wellshift also has our own combined survey that will give you clear line of sight into what type of wellness program to create. (It’s important to note that if you run an HRA, and you’re less than 50 employees, according to HIPAA you cannot create an aggregate report and share that data. Seek out a third party to run your survey for you).

Create the full vision, and put it on a timeline.

Armed with the data from your survey plus the key habits that you prioritized, it’s time to create your vision. Wellness programs can fall short when teams get caught up in, “there’s not enough time or money”. The key to starting your program is to hold your priorities and intentions steadfast, and then trust that sticking with them over time will net you the end result you’re looking for. Yes, building a healthy culture is a long term investment (just like being a healthy individual is). And that’s a good thing, because it means you don’t have to know it all or do it all today, you just have to begin.

So, let’s begin with the end in mind. What will it be like to work at your company 5 years from now if your wellness program vision comes to fruition? Now, work that vision all the way backwards to where you can start today, because a vision only becomes a plan when it’s set against time. First, create creation goals for the next 30, 60, and 90 days, then go out for 1 year and work out to the 5 year vision. You can start small like creating a 3pm walking group to break up the stationary day, or buying fruit for the breakroom. You can start big, like bringing in a wellness program provider to help you implement and run your full program or investing on an on-site fitness facility. It doesn’t matter how big or small the step, what matters is the consistency of your steps over time.

With this new, fully informed vision in place, it’s time to bring the team back together. Bring your leadership team, and key wellness champion employees into one conversation about the plan. Present your findings, key areas of focus, and short and long term plan for how to overhaul your company culture. You, my friend, are a hero for getting this far. And once this meeting ends, I want you to realize that you’ve just exhibited the key traits to a true leader: creating a vision, and enabling others to believe in your vision.

You’re capable of doing wonders at your organization.