Workplace Wellbeing: Creating a Culture of Wellness

Workplace Wellness

Workplace wellness efforts can improve employee productivity, increase morale, lower employee stress, lower absenteeism, increase retention, and they might even ultimately reduce healthcare costs for employers. The trick has been implementing effective, long-term wellness strategies that work for both the organizations and their individual employees. On this episode of ProjectHR, our guest is Dr. Bradford Cooper, the CEO of US Corporate Wellness, and he knows how to make workplace wellness stick. He'll be telling us all about:

  • The importance of autonomy;
  • The challenges that face employer wellness programs;
  • What makes wellness efforts successful; and
  • Why employers should strive to create a culture of wellness!

Dr. Bradford Cooper

Workplace Wellness 

“Can employers help employees move toward better? Yes! Yes, they can! But if they push them to a specific better, then it’s going to fall flat.”


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The Importance of Autonomy

  • Behavior change only works when individuals have autonomy to take charge of their lives.
  • If you give people the tools, the ability, the opportunity to determine the areas they want to build on, and give them the resources, support and encouragement to do that, progress will be made!
  • Employees must be fully engaged to make progress.
  • “Can employers help employees move toward better? Yes! Yes, they can! But if they push them to a specific better, then it’s going to fall flat.”


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The Benefits of Wellness

  • For companies 
    • Improved employee productivity
    • Increased morale
    • Lower employee stress
    • Lower absenteeism
    • Increased retention
    • May ultimately reduce healthcare costs
  • For employees
    • Employees who engage in wellness will experience improved lives, which, in turn, makes them better and happier employees.


  • An employer’s approach to wellness can tell you a lot about that employer.
  • What works best is NOT a numbers-based, cookie-cutter style program. 
  • What works best is a genuine acknowledgement that everyone faces their own wellness challenges, and that we shouldn’t strive for perfection, but strive to be better. 

Challenges Facing Employer Wellness Programs

  • Resist the temptation to “Check Boxes”: This approach does not inspire or motivate employees, and doesn’t take into consideration the employees’ own individual goals.
  • Your program should be meaningful: It should matter to the employee, not just the employer!
  • Expectations should be built on accurately-measured results: Only the results from active participants should be measured and outliers should be removed (for example: an otherwise healthy participant who got into a bicycle accident should not be written off as a statistical wellness fail). We have to take the data in, explore the bigger picture and analyze it appropriately!

What Makes Wellness Efforts Successful?

  • Bring it down to the individual! Wellness can be improved for ALL your employees, but success may look very different from one participant to another.
  • Is wellness leadership participating? If the person who chose the program isn’t taking part, how good can it be?
  • Not looking for “perfect”! No participant, including those in leadership, should feel that they must be perfect with their health and wellness. We’re looking for leaders who care, and who employees who are relatable.

The Use of Incentives

  • Incentives are a must in order to get folks to engage - but all too often, incentives are set up to reward box-checking. 
  • Incentives should encourage employees to give something a try, to motivate first efforts and the quality of whatever they’re trying, be it coaching or whatever, is what keeps them involved, NOT the incentives. 

A Word on Coaching

Wellness Activities vs. Creating a Culture of Wellness

  • Developing a culture of wellness means that the organization supports individual, meaningful wellness.
  • Providing activities is, in many cases, throwing money at something that may be appreciated by a small percentage of your employees, but it won’t move the needle for the group as a whole. 
  • If you wish to reward people who are already going to the gym, that’s great, and rewarding that actually is a great reason to give out gym memberships -- but if you’re giving out gym memberships in hopes of increasing the number of people pursuing healthy lifestyles, you are kidding yourselves.
  • “A wellness program is all about behavior change. If we’re simply supporting what is already happening, that’s great, but that’s called a benefits program, not a wellness program.” 

Wellness on a Budget

  • If budget is a concern, start with the thing that will have the biggest impact - and in Dr. Cooper’s opinion, that’s coaching, even if it’s only a few times a year.
  • Once that’s implemented, you can add in more elements over time. 

Food in the Workplace

  • Is it valuable to put a greater emphasis on healthy food? Absolutely!
  • You don’t have to be the Food Police -- again, we’re not aiming for perfect, but for better!
  • If food is served as part of a meeting, serve healthier food (it doesn’t have to be salad);
  • Replace some vending machine offerings with some healthier options;
  • Cafeterias - most companies will work with you, limiting options on unhealthy food, or making the healthier food more affordable. 

Corporate Flexibility and Wellness

  • Work scheduling flexibility can support healthier choices;
  • Wellness isn’t just about “food and fitness”, it’s about improving lives - so if an employee’s life is improved by leaving early to go to their kid’s soccer game, workplaces should be flexible enough to accommodate.
  • This includes normalization of the use of PTO and vacation days. 


  • F5: The Five Major Areas of Life:
  • Faith
  • Family & Friends
  • Fuel & Fitness
  • Field of Play
  • Finances
  • This is not about achieving a “perfect life balance” - it’s about recognizing that there will always be give and take here as life goes on. Sometimes one will be given more emphasis, but it’s about being aware of what is getting more emphasis and what might need more attention.

The Role of Technology in Complementing Corporate Wellness

  • Fitness devices can be wonderful IF the employee chooses to use it for their own motivation, but not if someone (the company) is using it to look over the employees’ shoulder.

The US Corporate Wellness Approach

  • Utilizes the full spectrum of standard tools: biometrics, health risk assessments, incentive trackers, coaching, group challenges, lunch & learns.
  • What makes us different is that while these are all great tools, we start with the individual and make coaching the centerpiece, to create that relationship, to create that autonomy and allow each individual to pursue something that allows their lives to be better in their eyes. 
  • If you change any one thing in the right direction, other areas of their lives will improve as well! 
  • US Corporate Wellness supports AMP Coaching, which means:
  • Accredited
  • Meaningful
  • Prioritized

The Catalyst Coaching Institute

Dr. Bradford Cooper: Backstory

  • B.S. in Biology from Colorado State University
  • M.S. in Physical therapy from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
  • M.B.A. in Business Administration, Management and Operations from University of Colorado, Denver
  • Ph.D. in Performance Psychology from University of Exeter
  • Began his career as Director of Operations for Rose Rehabilitation
  • Served as Vice President of Operations for Healthsouth and Creator at Aerobar Edge, LLC
  • Dr. Cooper is currently the CEO of US Corporate Wellness, Inc., and Co-Founder of The Catalyst Coaching Institute.


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