Maybe Jen Smith should add Yoga Instructor to her LinkedIn profile.
Smith, HealthFitness, VP, Client Strategy & Growth, sure sounds like one the initial time she meets with a new client.
“I ask them to pause for a moment and breathe,” she said.
What comes next, though, has nothing to do with a warrior pose or a downward facing dog. The reason Smith asks clients to pause is purposeful and strategic—so they can take a step back from the day to day, move away from tactical thinking, and really hone in on what they want their wellness program to achieve for the company and its employees.
“You have to know where you want to go before you can figure out how to get there,” she said. “A strategic plan is kind of like helping someone plan a trip. We help them with the where, the why and the how.”
Smith said it is one thing for a company to want a wellness program. It’s another to know why one is needed and to articulate the specific objectives that, if achieved, will help employees and the company.
“Some companies want to reduce healthcare costs; others want to recruit new employees and lift morale,” she said. “Different companies have different goals, so it’s important to talk through and arrive at a common understanding of what the company wants. We want the goals of the wellbeing program to be in alignment with the company’s business objectives so they can achieve their overarching goals.”
It’s worth pushing on this point until there is clarity about the primary purpose of the wellbeing program.
“The No. 1 thing I always ask is why does the organization want to invest money into a wellbeing program,” she said. “Once that’s determined, we stop going in circles, and everything can fall into place. It reduces conflict and enhances alignment.”
In fact, HealthFitness believes so strongly in the importance of a strategic roadmap that from an organizational standpoint, it separated its program management from its client strategy and growth function.
“When we reorganized the organization, we purposefully separated the role of strategy from the operational role,” Smith said. “Inevitably, when you’re responsible for program management and strategy, it’s too easy to get bogged down by day-to-day issues and tactics. This decision has really freed up our strategy people.”
In addition to its organizational structure, the strategy department is further divided by industry. That means each strategy director is assigned based on the industry, not geography.
For example, this allows Amy Brammer, Sr. Director, Client Strategy & Growth, to immerse herself in the industries she covers—energy, transportation, communication, higher education and government. As a result, no matter the macro trend a client faces in a certain industry, Brammer is prepared to propose a solution.
“No two industries are the same,” Brammer said. “Solutions I present to the client are always grounded in my industry research and knowledge.”
Whatever the solution, HealthFitness is cognizant that it aligns with the strategic priority of the wellbeing program.
Smith said it’s better to run a highly focused wellbeing program than one that tries to appeal to every possible interest.
“What are the one or two biggest things that we can achieve?” she said. “That’s what we want our focus on and then we can grow and expand the program from there.”
Contact us to learn more about our strategic planning process for your wellbeing program.