Humans At Work with Michael Glazer

#47: Designing Corporate Wellness Programs

Starting a corporate wellness program can seem like a daunting task. Where should you start? And what’s needed to make it successful? Corporate wellness expert Terri Levins Dietz talks about what companies can do to design and establish strong corporate wellness programs that make a difference. From strategic considerations down to tactics, Terri shares how she helps companies navigate decisions and sidestep pitfalls for starting quickly and effectively.



Visit: WYAO Hawaii website

Read: Collaboration Begins With You by Ken Blanchard, et al.

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Episode Transcript

Michael Glazer  00:04

Welcome to humans at work. I'm your host, Michael Glazer. My life purpose is to make well being at work a globally accepted basic human right. And this podcast helps by giving you fresh perspectives and actionable ideas for making working with other humans better for everyone. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you like what you hear, please subscribe and rate our show. And you can read the entire transcript for this episode at  Okay, your companies decided to start a wellness program and you're part of the team tasked with making it happen. So how do you do it? Well, that's where my guest comes in. Terry Levins Dietz, is the owner of WYAO Hawaii and they help companies through every stage of the lifecycle of wellness programs from planning through to assessing current programs, as well as identifying gaps coming up with solutions that will help take their programs from where they are to where they want to go. She has more than 30 years of experience across the health, fitness and wellness industries. And it's a pleasure to welcome her to the show. So hi, Terri.


Terri Levins Dietz  01:07

Thank you so much, Michael, for having me. I'm so excited to be here. And it's quite the honor as well. Thank you.


Michael Glazer  01:13

Terri, I want to start with a bit of an introduction. So can you tell us a little bit about what your company WYAO Hawaii Corporate Wellness does, and how that fits into the overall wellness and wellbeing space?


Terri Levins Dietz  01:30

Sure, sure. I think I might step back even one step further with I do WYAO Hawaii Corporate Wellness, excuse me got a little frog in my throat there. But my purpose in life, anything with this company is really to fearlessly engage in my own wellness and well being to unleash unleash energy that will help and inspire others. So we can all live our best lives. And with this while was has been around now for about five years, and we're really here to help support organizations wellbeing through impactful wellness solutions, and the education and the presenters that go to and work with us and work with your companies really embody this energy to inspire others to find their potentials and step into their best lives. And I think that's really the essence of what why how does and what we offer.


Michael Glazer  02:39

And on a personal level, I mean, this connects with your own personal background of energy and fitness and wellness, right?


Terri Levins Dietz  02:47

Yeah, very much. So very, very much so.


Michael Glazer  02:50

And could you share a little bit about that?


Terri Levins Dietz  02:54

Wow. I guess my, my, oh, gosh, wellness, for me was just part of what we did growing up from my mom, you know, dragging me to group exercise classes with her at the Civic Center, if I had nothing else to do to swim lessons to swimming to being outdoors and playing, wrapping it up into how I got into becoming a competitive athlete in aerobic gymnastics and, and that's how I traveled the world. But I learned so much about myself, how it was just amazing. The the wellness that comes from being an athlete and really embracing your potential as an athlete. So yeah, I've always had some sort of athletic endeavor in my side pocket. And


Michael Glazer  03:45

What was the journey between that took you from competitive athlete to wellness business owner?


Terri Levins Dietz  03:53

I think college and a lot of things actually. Definitely, I went to school, and I have a degree in exercise physiology. So really, it was, you know, how does the body respond to movement, that's the essence of it. And, and through those years, I was always competing. I had many jobs, whether it was in a health club, gyms, I had the honor of working in hospitals in bariatric programs, I've worked in hospital, hospitals, wellness programs within hospitals. And and, and from that I was able to transition into actually a job with an insurance company where they had an arm of wellness and we developed a portal and this whole piece to employers health and wellness with a wellness program. So I along the way, it just kind of unfolded for me in all these different areas to play in and they all were either fitness or wellness based, but there's a huge difference. ridge that that connects the two. And and yeah, so I've been very fortunate that way.


Michael Glazer  05:08

One of the things you and I have talked about before is that your focus is really around designing programs. And simplicity is one of the keys to good program design. Presumably, all these programs serve a larger purpose. And so um, I think it's critical to be super clear upfront about the purpose and the goal of the initiative or goal of the initiative at the very beginning of this process. I'm guessing you'd agree with that.


Terri Levins Dietz  05:37

I do. Very, very much so. And I think, yes, there is an urgency. And now is the time to be investing in wellness for the well being of your employees, for sure. Often, I think it can feel overwhelming. Where do we start? There's no budget for this. But if we, at the end of the day, if we can just step back and go, What is your vision for your wellness program? What it what is it? Why do you want to do this, and we can start there and just have a vision. And then from there, we can start with very simple solutions from a really simple survey to see what's important to your employees, what their current needs are, because those change over time, and we want to be listening to those needs, not just what we feel is important. And then maybe you do just a simple lunch and learn and get some response and see where that is, and start there.


Michael Glazer  06:43

Have you ever worked with a company that says we've done a survey? And the employee needs are all over the place? And because of that we're not sure where to start?


Terri Levins Dietz  06:56

You know, to be honest with you, I've not worked for the company that it's that has said the needs are all over the place. Usually it is we've not done a survey, or maybe the survey might be maybe not asking the right questions.


Michael Glazer  07:14

Yeah. So what are some examples you've seen of we've done a survey, but the questions aren't the right ones, or they're not insightful.


Terri Levins Dietz  07:23

Um, what happens is we don't get the story behind the answers. So, you know, it's kind of like if, if, okay, we want to implement some, some initiatives around mindfulness. But we ask people and their responses, yes, we would be interested in mindfulness. But we never go beyond asking, tell me more about why this is important to you. We may be missing something bigger. Or we might be missing another step stone to taking us from there to have a mindfulness. So we're not Bridging the Gap appropriately.


Michael Glazer  08:07

Would I be right to think that when you're asking questions about why mindfulness, why is this important to you? Did it can quickly scaffold up into employees feeling like they're stressed out? They're overwhelmed, and they're tied up with issues that are more in the HR policy or the work culture area than something that is directly? Primarily linked with wellness or well being? Sure,


Terri Levins Dietz  08:35

Yes, for sure. And I think sometimes it is, I don't have the time for for this, or they're, they are stressed with having so much of a workload that's going on. And sometimes having meaningful conversation with your team, you see that and you understand that and it can be very simple changes for the the manager, the leader to go, oh, let me help you kind of clear the way a little bit to see what's important, you know, so those can lead to meaningful conversations that give you very good insight. And it can be very simple fixes. And the wonderful part about taking that moment to ask those questions, and to listen, without judgment, of course, is that it's it, it allows for authenticity to happen. And it allows for your team to really trust you and go wow, they care.


Michael Glazer  09:33

How do you follow up when you discover in this example, that there is a need for mindfulness, which you want to address. There's also a need for some of the other, you know, good manager habits or good organizational hygiene habits. Have you moved forward from realizing that's actually what the need is?


Terri Levins Dietz  09:55

That's a great question. So from where I said, I am I am able to save this is what we can offer, and how we can support your team. And if I if we, myself and this company organization has created a good report, I can also say, these are some areas that are we are noticing some, some opportunities. And and here's a few options for you and resources for you. And and you know, and just kind of bridge the bridges that way with them. But the key really is developing that relationship with the company. Yeah.


Michael Glazer  10:40

I mean, the message I'm getting Terri is, instead of trying to create one big program, it's really breaking it down into its parts and identifying here with all the parts are and just having a just a very open, honest, authentic conversation about how do we want to prioritize this? What do we want to try first? Is that


Terri Levins Dietz  11:01

Yes, very, very much. So. And that's where we go back to this question of what is your vision? And most of the time, like, I've really never thought about that. And it's like, that's okay. Take some time. Think about that. What kind of vision do you want for your wellness program that supports the well being of your company? What is that Think big. And, and, yeah, so that's where we kind of let that start there. But then it's like, we can offer just some simple programming, so you can see how that works.  But let's connect that to some, let's connect that to some other objectives that you might be doing or initiatives that you have going on. So you can see how that fits together, you can feel it, feel it and experience this. And and start there. Because ultimately, if you decide if an organization goes, you know, we really want to invest and we want to have a, we'll just say a wellness team, whether it's formal and informal, they meet whatever, once a month. And we want that we really wanted to, you know, do a survey, a big intake, you know, 100, you know, a nice big survey to really understand needs, wants, so and so forth with the company, we want to get metrics, you know, get our metrics going, and we want a year end report. That's not all going to happen overnight. That's, that's a process.  And so if you think that's the vision I want, okay, great. But let's start with some simple things first, so you can see how it works, and what is actually going to work for your company. Because I can say, Okay, we, you know, we need to do evaluation process and pick out the goal, and then we're gonna measure and you know, and guess what you realize, I don't have enough time in the day and resources to do all this. You know, and then we need to kind of back back step a little bit. So we, it's, it's a, it's an ongoing process, it needs to be fluid, and we have to remember to wellness, well, being is a journey, we never arrive. And that's I think that's such a cool thing is that it's it's forever be fluid, but we can always we have opportunities every single day, to influence a person's well being for sure. And ourselves, it starts with each one of us to the we have that opportunity every day to make ourselves a little bit better to


Michael Glazer  13:34

It reminds me of the of the Ken Blanchard book which is Change Begins With You is the title of the book (note: the title is actually Collaboration Begins With You) . But and it's the same message. It's by changing ourselves, we can change organization or change organization, culture, or even beyond that.


Terri Levins Dietz  13:48

Absolutely, absolutely. And we you start planting those seeds, and you might have managers that aren't, may not be as on board with it, it gives them a chance as well to kind of sink their teeth into it, so to speak, and, and get their feet wet and realize, oh, I don't need to have all the answers, you know, I just need to put my best foot forward. And and it's really amazing at and again to that doesn't change overnight. It's it's a process. That's part of being human.


Michael Glazer  14:23

One of the challenges that I hear speaking with people speaking with corporate leaders, is two things related to vision. One is articulating the vision that feels substantive. You know, and not just full of empty platitudes. Yeah, yeah. And so my question is, what are the components of an effective wellness vision? You've talked about a couple of times versus one that may just sound like it's borrowed from some anyplace else or the website or the internet?


Terri Levins Dietz  14:55

No, that's, that's what we get. We get we get stuck there. And you have to go back, you have to involve a cross section of your whole company to really come up with that vision, what that is. And you need to pull in the vision and the thoughts from your leadership and that energy from the leadership. And you've got to throw a lot of darts on the wall to come to the right vision and what that looks like, and what that feels like. Otherwise, it comes out, and it's going to sound like this. We want wellness. So our employees are happy and healthy. You know? And it's like, okay, it's


Michael Glazer  15:34

All things to all people. Yeah.


Terri Levins Dietz  15:35

Right. And, and it does need to tie into the overall vision and mission of the company itself. What is that? It parallels it? And you know, when you when you hit on it, because everybody stands up and goes, that's it that that's it. And and then for every company is going to be a little bit different. And again, you know what, I asked that question that's like, oh, I don't like good. It should be a little bit of a stumbling block. Just let that marinate, put words down on paper.


Michael Glazer  16:08

The thinking through it together, I think is an is an indispensable part of having a vision feel meaningful for people.


Terri Levins Dietz  16:17

Yes, yes. And guess what? Now you're part of it. You're not being dished it out and said, Okay, we're doing this, you are actually part of this. And I add that gives, that gives your vision, gives it clarity, they gives it purpose, it gives it legs to run.


Michael Glazer  16:36

Another challenge that I hear from time to time from corporate leaders is how do we translate a vision that's clear into the first wave of wellness activities, or well being activities? You know, given that we've identified four or five or eight different needs of employees across the company, or across the division?


Terri Levins Dietz  17:01

Question sounds like, one we're going to start implementing this wellness program. How do we start rolling it out?


Michael Glazer  17:12

Yeah. So there's, there's eight different potential priorities? Or needs? How do we? How do we figure out which one to choose? Knowing that probably no, one initiative is going to be as relevant to all employees? And then how do we do it in a way that actually makes kind of aligns with what our well being purpose our well being vision is?


Terri Levins Dietz  17:37

I think one of the what we've done with many of the companies that I've worked with is that you usually, it's kind of it's fun. The leadership, or one of the main leadership managers will actually do a letter to each one of the employees introducing what we're going to do, we've been listening, and this is where we're gonna start. And we're super excited. And this is going to be one of our first sessions that we roll out. And welcome. And, you know, that initial from top down from a manager, and that manager actually participates, speaks volumes, that people can stand up and go behind him and say, Okay, I'll give this a try.


Michael Glazer  18:30

Once that planning process starts to happen, what are the critical things that must happen? I don't know if I should say well or correctly, or just need to happen. In order to get successfully from planning phase two, we've got a really good program, and we're ready to implement it.


Terri Levins Dietz  18:52

Well, from there, you really need to look at what the process is to take you from point A to point B to C. So we need to know. So you're going to have an education session a lunch and learn how does that get announced? What type of marketing I'll use the word marketing? How are we going to promote this? What type of language are we going to use? And all this needs to really kind of be done in a way that is systematic, so you can iterate it the next time when you can go? You can look back and say what worked? What didn't and what can we do better?  I love Mari Ryan, she she's part of her metrics. And and when I utilize this all the time, with very, very simple metrics, what worked what didn't What can do better, but you have to have a system as to how you're going to roll out each initiative that you're going to do, or campaign if you will, from start to finish right down to how you tie it up at the end with a if it's a survey that you're doing, and then finishing with what worked with this, what didn't and what can we do better? And then And that's always a scary place to go to when you go, this really didn't work. And but that's like the only way you can fall forward and go, Okay, well, we know. But now we can see why it didn't. And if you don't have that system in place, your every time you're going to be rolling out a campaign, you're starting from scratch. So once you have a system in place to roll out campaigns, it becomes very easy to iterate.


Michael Glazer  20:27

So let me come back to to what we were talking about before, because we were using mindfulness as an example program. And I want to connect that with what we're talking about now in terms of metric gain and measuring success. How do you what kind of metrics really matter when you're rolling out, say, a mindfulness program? And how do you measure? Have you gathered the data? Or have you set up the systems to collect the data? If it's something other than surveys?


Terri Levins Dietz  20:58

That's a great question. And I think in in the area that we play in when we deliver a lunch and learn session on mindfulness in or some shape or form within that. Office, often, if we are looking at, maybe there's going to be not just one Lunch and Learn session, but several, we may have a survey at the beginning that will ask very pointed questions to see if they understand certain things about mindfulness or what that is what it means. And then we'll do post after all the sessions are over, what did you learn? What would you share with someone else? Would you do any more of these sessions, just to see if there was an impact that was made.  Some of the other work that we do when we resource out with companies that have an app that has a dashboard, it's fantastic, because you get a quick look at what where people are gravitating towards if it's more for stress, if it's because there's all different levels within that mindfulness. So you can get an idea of where, where people are going to what types of sessions that they're going, when they go into the app, they're looking at a, you know that it's on meditation, or it's on being present in the moment, so we're able to see where they're going. And then we're able to track if they're continuingly, using an app to help them be more mindful throughout the day. So you can very much see a change.  And then with HR, you might, they might be able to show you know what there's less, there's less sick days that are happening, or hey, people are actually taking their vacation time, which is great. And or we're able to the flex time that we've implemented is working much better to and people are more productive and more focus. So on all those different areas, it can make a difference, you can see where the the education is actually working or sticking in the seeds that are being planted are actually starting to bloom.


Michael Glazer  23:24

How much of what you just talked about are the kinds of things that need to be talked about and sorted out defined upfront so that they can be measured at the end, as opposed to having to be an afterthought. Let's check if there's an impact.


Terri Levins Dietz  23:39

I think all of it needs to be and this also. And that's kind of a really broad answer. I think, again, it might start simple with just people participating. And then as your program grows, and it develops, you're going to start seeing that participation becoming more engagement. So those questions, then you can start, you can start adding to what you're going to be looking for, I think and that's when that's going to evolve over time. Again, this won't all happen right up front right out the right out the get go. I know


Michael Glazer  24:25

It seems like one of the things we're talking about without really naming it is the importance of expectation setting what we can expect in you know, month one quarter one year one versus what's unrealistic.


Terri Levins Dietz  24:41

Absolutely, absolutely. setting the expectations up front and and when we go in and work with a company that's fine. It's really important to have some of those conversations and and really, make sure you drill down on what it is that they're looking for, sometimes they don't really know. Or it may be too much, and, or not enough. And our job is to kind of help guide that a little bit. And say, Well, this is what we can do. And this is what's to be expected. And also, what's really important with this process is conversation is whether it really needs to be a monthly or quarterly check in to make sure on our end, we're doing what we need to do. And they're doing what they need to do. Is there a disconnect somewhere again, so now we're already going what's working? What's not? What can we do better? You know, but with just the expectations? For sure. Yeah.


Michael Glazer  25:43

Can you give an example of how a monthly or quarterly checking would happen in a midsize organization? I'm asking because sometimes, there will be two different reactions to that. One is yes, of course. And then the other is he? Well, that's that on top of all of the other surveys and work and things that people have to do, how do we, how do we do it and still keep it light, while staving off survey fatigue and all of the other potential negatives that could go along with that?


Terri Levins Dietz  26:15

Exactly. And I think, really, we limit and one of our solutions is what we call integrative or integrative education series. So we take all the planning off your plate, and we'll have an initial call to see what you have currently. And, you know, we'll ask some very pointed questions, as far as you know, do you have a vision? You know, do you have a current wellness program that you're doing? What what, you know, what kind of benefits do you have through your insurance, so on and so forth. But really, what we'll do then, is we'll have a whole calendar year planned out for you with one education session, which is 30 minutes. So it's a total work into your your company's day. And we'll have each week there is a 10 Minute movement snack, so we get them up and moving. And that can be live, it can be recorded.  We do quarterly, happy hours, which is really a source of connection, community, camaraderie, and where you can do recognition. And with that, so every quarter, I'll do a 15 minute, check in with my with my, you know, with my team that's within that organization and just say, Hey, how are things going? What else is there that we can do? Is there something else do we need to shift a little bit does the marketing that we're providing for you to change the language up, should we do a video instead of, you know, words on on a, you know, in an email, so on and so forth. So, that, that is how we keep it light. And, and the other thing that we transition to is year end report. So it's not a bunch of words, but it's, it's very trans, it's very transparent for the entire company to see. So your executive report for the end of the year, we actually turned that into a fun, it's a fun presentation that you share out with your entire company that's full of pictures, and it'll have sentiments and it has testimonials. And it shows what they've been doing in the community and all these different aspects of well being. And it speaks volumes. And it's and from year to year.  It the an organization can look at these reports and go wow, look what we've done. And, and that is another fun way to check in, without it seeming Lee to be another piece of work that we have to do. And really, you know, Michael, our job too, is to create an experience. You know, and I think that's part of what I love doing is creating the experience people want to show up, you know, it's, it's, it's, you know, you want it to be memorable. It's like going to Disneyland or world and it's just it's should be a little bit magical too. I think. Yeah. Yeah. That's,


Michael Glazer  29:27

That's great. Are there any other advice you have about for companies to help them keep the administrative part of implementing successful wellness programs light?


Terri Levins Dietz  29:42

Oh, that's a great question. Oh, there's so many things you know, I I'm the one that will always try something different. And I'll be like, Well, that didn't work so well to start a meeting off or whatever. It's like, it's it's, you know, yeah, tell tell stories. Share testimonials, those those that kind of stuff that does pull at the heartstrings, but it's also being human. And it doesn't seem so data centered, if you will. And I think it's just it allows us to, you know, I don't know, pull the, it allows us to step into who we are, if we can just keep some levity with what with what we're doing humor is keeping a little bit of a sense of humor is so important too. And, and also just remembering everyone has a story, and their story wants to be heard than told.


Michael Glazer  30:38

Yeah, it's a great point. Sometimes we get so focused on the data. Yeah, yeah. And while the data is important, yeah, there is a lot of power to your point of being able to tell human stories, especially with initiatives like the ones we're talking about today.


Terri Levins Dietz  30:57

You know, I want to tell you, going back, I want to, you asked me a little bit about my athletic endeavors and such and one of the things that has really kind of shaped my view, around wellness in the workplace, and well oiled companies and such is, has been working with my swim coach who runs a company, and she does all the onboarding and gets to know you and start and she is someone that looks at where you are what you have. And and that's where you start from. I mean, when I started working with her, I was like, Well, I can swim. But you know, I if I want to swim channels, I better start learning how to do this a little bit better. And she was working with someone that I had a Timex watch, it has a sweep hand on it. And she's like, What was your split on that? 100 meters? I went, Oh, maybe three minutes? Like, yeah, I don't think so. Okay, but that's where we are, you know, but I'll never forget the time.  So fast forward a year into working with her and I swim like a frickin rock. Anyway, I was bellyaching, I said, Michelle, when am I ever going to get faster? And I'll never forget what she said to me. She goes, Terry, I don't know what your potential is. But let's find out. I hold that to when she said that, to me. She said that with this, this sincere, I don't know what it is. But we're going to bring you out and figure it out to see what we can get out of you. And and that's what I want to bring into what we offer with with wellness. And then what what managers can do is, what kind of potential do we have in people that they don't even know that they have, but let's help you bring it out and figure it out. And and and, and the fun part is, is that we do it in a fun kind of way. It's not always oh my god, that workout just about destroyed me. It's fun, too. And, but it's it's finding that potential.


Michael Glazer  33:12

I want to use this concept of finding potential to kind of pivot to our next topic, and also help us round out the conversation. Right now from from where you are, Terry, what, what would you say is the biggest unmet need around workplace wellness.


Terri Levins Dietz  33:31

What I feel when I see unmet need is sometimes just being fearless and stepping in and saying, Let's go for it. I think our own fears sometimes get in the way still. And we're really good at putting excuses out there as to why we're not doing things as opposed to let's just try it. So I think sometimes it's our own personal selves that get in the way of workplace wellness.


Michael Glazer  34:01

And one final question, which is what does the phrase working with humans mean to you?


Terri Levins Dietz  34:06

I love that question. I think when we work with humans, you're working with a width. You're working with a person that has so many layers, and it gets messy and challenging. But that also means we have so much potential.


Michael Glazer  34:25

Terry, thanks so much for joining me today. It's been a great conversation. And I'm so glad that I'm starting my day here in Tokyo with it.


Terri Levins Dietz  34:32

Oh, wonderful. Well, thank you so much, Michael. It's been an honor to be here. And as always, I love our conversations be well.


Michael Glazer  34:43

Thanks for listening. If you liked this episode, please consider subscribing to the show. And I invite you to connect with me at or at