Work-life balance.

Mindfulness.

Self-care.

Is there a fly in here, or just the sound of buzzwords?

Work-life balance isn’t a buzzword for us. It’s a cornerstone value in our human-first approach to doing business as a full-service clinical research organization. In this blog post, we reflect on the success of our RENEW Program and share five tips for sustaining a company wellness program that inspires participation rather than demanding “mandatory fun”.

It’s certainly easy to find articles, tips, and tricks related to workplace wellness, including “How to Meditate at Your Desk Without Falling Asleep”. But how can a company create a wellness culture that lasts longer than reading a blog post and doesn’t fizzle out like a fad diet?

In 2020 BRIGHT established a formal wellness program to engage and support our team. It wasn’t easy during a global pandemic, but it was especially important to enable our staff to bring their best selves to work and to build on the camaraderie and watercooler talk that felt out of reach when everyone was working remotely. It’s the one-year anniversary of our RENEW company wellness program, and we believe it is here to stay as long as we continue to adhere to the five tips below.

1. Represent the team and company culture.

During initial brainstorming, we decided the BRIGHT wellness program should focus on five areas that are important to our team and representative of our company culture: responsibility, environmentalism, nutrition, exercise, and work-life balance. Thus, the RENEW program was born. And yes, as a clinical research organization we can’t help but love a good acronym, so the name itself makes us giddy.

By focusing on areas already of interest to our team, which includes plenty of bikers, foodies, and recyclers, we felt confident that we’d have a baseline level of participation and could then build on that engagement. Our first step in selecting and planning activities is to ensure they relate to one of the RENEW’s five areas of focus. Communication is also important. As medical device industry experts, we also know a thing or two about written processes, so we developed a BRIGHT Community Involvement and Giving business process. Yup, we’re geeks, and unabashedly so when it comes to putting our values in writing.

2. Build a dedicated planning team with management support.

Our planning team comprises five employees, including one executive. Management leadership and participation gives credibility to the program and signals to the team that the company supports and encourages wellness. It also gives the planning team a direct line for decision-making and budgeting. The benefit of a larger planning team over a single program manager is the increased opportunity for brainstorming, shared accountability, and broader representation of the interests within our entire staff.

3. Participate in local wellness programs and events.

As a Minnesota-based company, BRIGHT is fortunate to be located in an active wellness community, and we look for opportunities to engage with it. We are a graduate of the mspWellness cohort, a partnership between the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Health Department. Learning how neighboring businesses were addressing workplace wellness sparked the sense of community that we hoped to foster for our team through the RENEW program, and we credit mspWellness for kickstarting the transformation of our ideas into actions. Another benefit from our local community is that we obtained a Breastfeeding Friendly workplace designation from the Minneapolis Department of Health.

In May 2021, BRIGHT competed in two Minnesota-based physical activity competitions: The Hennepin County Step To It Challenge and the American Heart Association Twin Cities Heart Walk. Team members embraced both challenges with enthusiasm and excitement. Because the legwork had been completed by the organizational sponsors, both events were easy commitments when it came to planning and participation by BRIGHT. Our team is looking forward to participating in both events next year.

4. Set reasonable expectations.

Another way to phrase this tip is “No mandatory fun.” We don’t strive for a 100% participation in our RENEW program offerings, and we never force attendance. Instead, we offer a variety of activities, times, and locations to inspire participation, while also recognizing our team members’ need to prioritize family and work commitments. We have events ranging from community service to happy hours and a showcase series where team members share and teach about their hobbies and talents. Activities are planned well in advance so people can either re-arrange their schedule or know another opportunity is around the corner.

5. Be flexible.

We’ve been delighted with the program roll-out so far, but it hasn’t been perfect. The pandemic delayed our plans for activities in the environmentalism and nutrition areas of focus. With our team working from home for most of 2020, there was no need to kick off our office recycling and compost programs or the build-your-own oatmeal and yogurt breakfast bar. So, in the spirit of 2020, we pivoted. We focused our attention to building the Microsoft Teams RENEW channel, which is a great tool that will continue to serve us well as we return to in-person work.

One year into the BRIGHT RENEW program, we are thrilled to have a company wellness program that represents our team and culture, that’s run by a dedicated planning team supported by management, has a connection to an active wellness community, and sets reasonable expectations with flexibility. By continuing to follow the five tips above, we hope to sustain the RENEW program, stay true to our company values, and continue to adapt to the dynamic needs of our team and their individual circumstances. We hope these tips serve you well in establishing and sustaining a successful wellness program at your place of business.  

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