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Expert Advice on Succeeding in Corporate Wellness

UW Extended Campus March 30, 2016
Woman speaking during meeting

In our previous blog post, health promotions advisor Abigail Nadler, and Jason Morgan, director of global health and wellness, recounted the paths they took to reach their current positions in corporate wellness. Now, we’re going to share the career advice they offered our students during the webinar.

In Abigail’s opinion, her journey from student to high-level health promotion expert and national health and wellness presenter has been bolstered by three efforts: developing an elevator speech, making connections, and finding a niche.

Craft an elevator pitch  

Your short-and-sweet speech to an employer should describe:

  • Who you are (don’t be afraid to get a little personal!)
  • What you’re seeking from your audience
  • What you can offer

Sounds pretty basic, right? And yet, even that small amount of information can make a strong impression! To help provide a better understanding of a powerful elevator speech, Abigail offered up her own and recommended a promotional video from the film Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

Jake Gyllenhaal, in character as Nightcrawler’s Lou Bloom:


Abigail’s personal elevator speech:

“I am seeking a career—not just a job—that will challenge me to grow both personally and professionally. I am a worksite wellness industry expert who has worked with 700+ employers on the development of worksite wellness programs. The long-term success really hinges on my understanding of the unique needs of both the organization and their employees. By leveraging my 10+ years of experience in the industry, I educate employers on the spectrum of wellness while navigating the legal landscape to ultimately develop a plan that provides their employees the opportunity to thrive.”

Develop and nurture connections

Abigail reiterated the idea that reaching out to people you know is a great way to expand your network—in her case, her parents’ next-door neighbor was the connection she needed to get into corporate wellness. Give your elevator speech to your friends, family, colleagues, and professors; not only will it help you feel comfortable making the pitch, but it will make them aware of your career goals—and able to connect you to people seeking someone with your skills.

You should also volunteer or serve on community boards in your desired field. And don’t be afraid to set up informational interviews with companies that interest you! Even if they’re not currently hiring, you’re showing initiative, and you may be the first name to pop into their memory when opportunities do arise.

Got a foot in the door in corporate wellness? Stand out by finding an industry niche

Early on in her career, after consulting with external clients, Abigail noticed a trend: none of the clients had a strong awareness of legal issues in wellness. She realized that by honing her legal knowledge, she could become a valuable resource in the field. Abigail focused on learning the ins and outs of the corporate legal system, then utilized her network to find more local opportunities to provide her services.

Now, Abigail is a recognized expert in navigating the legal landscape in corporate wellness. By helping over 700 organizations understand the legal structure of their wellness programs, she’s gained credibility and respect on a national level.

While Abigail offered tips on how to set yourself up for a thriving career, Jason Morgan focused his advice on bringing the most benefit to your organization. In his experience, every company is looking for a strong return on investment (ROI) from their wellness program. But to Jason, that’s a misguided measure for corporate wellness—and his first piece of advice was:

Convince your organization to focus on value on investment

By Jason’s definition, value on investment goes deeper than just cost savings. In judging your wellness program’s worth on a “happiness index,” you’ll pay closer attention to factors like company morale, retention rates, and employee productivity. Even employee attendance can be affected by the overall well-being of an organization. And in the end, all of these factors directly relate to a strong ROI.

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Make leadership a high-profile member of the wellness team

After successfully promoting a new way of measuring program value to the leaders of your organization, it should be easier to garner their support for your wellness efforts. This is important! In Jason’s experience, leadership participation makes a wellness program markedly more successful.

He likes to employ two methods of incorporating leaders into wellness efforts:

GE Healthcare Phoenix, AZ plant manager leading a group walk
GE Healthcare Phoenix, AZ plant manager leading a group walk

Integrative leadership

If your leadership team is cooperative, implement an ongoing wellness effort they can take part in. At various GE locations throughout the world, Jason has coordinated leadership-led walking or running groups, which is an easy way to engage employees in healthful behaviors.

GE Healthcare Madison, WI chief medical officer boosting employee morale by blending smoothies on a Fender Blender bike
GE Healthcare Madison, WI chief medical officer boosting employee morale by blending smoothies on a Fender Blender bike

Leadership engagement events

The second way to engage your leadership is through a targeted leadership engagement event.  These events often utilize leadership in a support capacity, such as chief officers serving a healthy breakfast to employees. Jason took this idea to the next level at a recent engagement event by partnering with Rock the Bike for a Fender Blender smoothie festival.

Understand your organization’s culture and build policies that fit

Once you’ve engaged the leadership within your organization, mine their experience to get a better understanding of the corporate culture. By getting in-depth knowledge about those you’re serving, you’ll be better prepared to create policies and programs that work for them. Because Jason works on a global level, he is aware of the crucial importance of understanding cultural norms when implementing wellness programs.

Once you have a full understanding of the employees’ needs, Jason recommended creating policies—not just programs—that promote wellness.

What exactly does that mean? Here are two examples of policies Jason has enacted at GE Healthcare locations:

  • In combination with a smoking cessation program, Jason enacted a “tobacco-free environment” policy throughout the location.
  • When implementing a weight loss/maintenance program, Jason ensured the location offered healthful options in the company café at a subsidized rate, as well as regular fitness classes in a dedicated exercise center.

By bolstering programs with policies that support their desired result, you can help eliminate barriers to success.

Abigail and Jason’s combined knowledge provided valuable insight on how to find success for yourself and your organization in the field of wellness. To learn more about the career outlook for the corporate wellness industry and find helpful job-search tools, visit the About Health & Wellness Management section of the UW Health and Wellness Management website.

Programs: Health and Wellness Management