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Our corporation has acquired a new company, and one of the positions that has come about as a result of this is that we have a high level executive position in charge of workplace environment and satisfaction, as a chief cultural officer.

They have welcomed ideas and suggestions, and would like to propose a corporate wellness program. I am well versed in the area as it was my major in college, and I have been reading on the recent advances in the subject, as well as gathering published studies on the impact and dollar return on investment for similar programs.

My question is, what sort of format would be preferred for this? Business writeup, scholarly approach, or just an outline of benefits with relevant studies cited? I would like this to be looked at and not just dismissed.

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Executive Summary

Rather than worrying about the format of the document, worry about the approach. The best way to get things implemented is to get the decision-makers passionate about it, and have them take ownership of it as if it's their own idea. Here is one way to do that, feel free to adapt the steps to suit your personality, but remember the goal is to inspire passion for the idea.

Step 1: Send an E-Mail

Catch their attention with a brief executive summary distilling the important points you want to make so that it can be scanned in 2-3 minutes max. A simple 5-paragraph (Introduction, Point A, Point B, Point C, Conclusion) would be fine so long as you keep them brief. The conclusion should be simple like:

This e-mail is just scratching the surface -- if you're interested in discussing this more, I'd love to sit down with you. I am free at the following times:

  • July 9th, 9:00-9:30
  • July 10th, 2:00-2:30
  • July 11th, 4:15-4:45

Let me know when is good for you

Step 2: Passion > Proposals

When you get a meeting to discuss it, don't focus on "$3-$4 for every $1 investment!" This person is in charge of "workplace environment and satisfaction" -- don't act as if he/she is the Chief Financial Officer. Explain what wellness means to you. What it means to your family (if you have one). Why you love it. Why you studied it. Why you want the company to support it. Passionately.

You want to convince the Chief Cultural Officer that regardless of cost, wellness programs are a great way to improve the workplace environment and satisfaction.

Step 3: Selling it to their bosses

If you do step 2 right, they will be passionate about your idea and want to sell it. Your job is much easier -- you give them a wealth of information on the benefits (financially), how to confirm them (calling up health plans or whatever, how to get whatever numbers are needed from other sources), and then let them find the best way to present it to their bosses.

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I would do a cost-benefit analysis. You might add a page of links to the various published studies, but the bottom line is business is what does it cost and what would I get for that money that would further the corporate goals. You also need to look at the cost benefits from the viewpoint of a senior company manager, not from your level. I know I worked for a company where having the wellness program reduded the health insurance costs the company had to pay. This is more compelling a reason in business than our employees will be healthier (not that you shouldn't mention that as a benefit, just the cost savings in insurance shoudl be a higher priority on your cost benefit analysis).

  • I was planning on writing that out, hadn't considered making it the main focus. It is a 3-4 dollar return on every 1 spent, I don't know if our insurance plan would reduce costs for having the program in place. Something to investigate, thank you! – JohnP Jul 1 '13 at 15:48
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    This is why my company has this too.... we have even had financial incentives to encourage people to have physicals, get routine blood work done, etc. – enderland Jul 1 '13 at 20:15
  • @enderland - That's discussed in several of the papers that I've read, on how to get employees to "buy in" to using the program, and various incentive programs and how to use them. – JohnP Jul 1 '13 at 20:25
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Disclaimer: I tend to work at rather small, close-knit companies, and prefer that environment. This answer is directed more for smaller companies.

While it may not be the best option, consider inviting the new officer to a lunch, propose it casually there, and offer to bring some extra research to their attention in a day or two at the office. You get a chance to actually know the person, discuss with them casually, etc.

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