The utilization of corporate wellness programs as part of a company’s business culture is the innovative part of this proposal. Though proving financial benefits of those programs is an inevitable part of the promotion of corporate wellness, one should not lose sight of the qualitative aspects such an approach could offer. Stadolska and Konstantinos (2004), for example, addressed the topic of sport development and how mass participation can be achieved. Certainly their focus had been on different ethnic groups within a society which, however, does not exclude companies. The ongoing globalization leads to an increased diversification of an enterprise’s workforce. It could almost be claimed that work is one of the prevalent reasons why people leave their respective countries. Even further, considering how much time one spends at work, wouldn’t it be reasonably to argue that exchanging cultural values should start there? And if that’s the case, isn’t it true as well that sport development could focus on corporate wellness as a means to provide a platform for exchange? Interestingly, an international company can mix and match cultures according to their overall belief of how values should be perceived internally and externally. Business strategists claim that managers can decide if a dominant culture is transferred internationally, cultures are merged, or subcultures are established. Thus, it is somewhat resilient to the local culture. No matter which approach one chooses, the applicant argues that sport (corporate wellness) could support those efforts. Further, the researcher would like to refer to Arai and Pedler (2003): The authors discussed mass participation as a means to promote social welfare. They argued that individuals need to step away from a consumption based view focused on individualism. Their argument is based on the belief that focal practices which promote corporation and are based on trust are the best way to achieve communitarian goals. Individualism is sometimes referred to as opportunistic behavior when talking in business settings, usually answered by Darwinism from an employer perspective. As a consequence, loyalty is neither present in the workforce nor among managers, which in turn might lead to those destructive business settings which have provided grounds for the contemporary economic downturns. The applicant argues that businesses need to employ a communitarian approach which is based on trust and shared values to overcome recent developments and finally come to conclusion that social welfare needs to be a consideration of each and every person.
The discussion above should relate insights from sport development to corporate wellness, whereas the latter can derive learning from the former. When we talk about shared values and the character building abilities sport might facilitate, why not use those claims and implement them in our business world? Wouldn’t it be possible to promote health and fitness by using group exercises, adventure races, and team building (based on sport) to extract benefits like, for example, camaraderie? Or is it even imaginable that the relaxing setting of a jog in the park can facilitate creative thinking instead of the intimidating atmosphere of a business meeting? What would happen if managers worked together with personal trainers, to create a healthy and motivating heaven for their employees (and themselves) which brings mind and body in sync to excel customer expectations?
Planned course of study.
The researcher would like to suggest a scaled approach based on two related events on two levels. The assumption made is that an investment should be both on an executive as well as on a workforce level. Such a top-down / bottom-up implementation, it is believed, would slowly but surely merge corporate values with corporate wellness and are a more feasible methodology to promote change:
Employee workshop: Business meetings are said to have a negative influence on creativity. Corporate wellness could be used to serve as a platform for innovation. For example, one could think of a moderated workshop where both a personal training and coach is present. The first phase of such an ‘event’ could be to introduce the business problem on hand, followed by an initial analysis. The second step could be a fitness session outside the facility, to account for the fact that creativity appears to be higher in nature. Finally, the participants could come back together and brainstorm over their ideas which were sparked during the informal and relaxing activity. Research could be construed of two groups which are similar among dimensions like occupation, level of education, etc. One group could find solutions to a problem according to the proposed model; the other might be supported by a coach, yet without an outside, wellness activity. An independent committee, in addition to interviews about the creative environment, could provide insights on which model is superior.
Executive workshop: Similar to the idea above, but with a more long-term impact one, could think of designing an event similar to adventure races, lasting over a weekend or an up to a 10-days experience. For example, executives could participate in the eco-challenge which would promote corporate social responsibility (CSR) and would consequently meet the claim to ‘lead by example’ by living an active, environmentally friendly lifestyle. Certainly, this would be in need of a higher investment regarding time and money, but if such an event is promoted within a company on a larger scale (see next paragraph), it is believed to provide additional value by stimulating an active and healthy company culture. The researcher would suggest integrating planning, execution, and training into a corporate wellness program for executives. As an external observer and consultant, the applicant suggests monitoring the development of specific character traits throughout the preparation period, before, during, and after the event. This is based on findings from former research, which has discovered benefits from participating in adventure races (as well as extreme sports), which go beyond the general identified ones in more mainstream sports. If one argues for the positive influence sport can have on one’s character, then it can be assumed that extreme sport does support this notion and objective, and even strengthens it.
Finally, in particular because time and financial investment is significant for the second proposed event, it appears important to find ways to market such an activity to employees and thus make it an initiative which supports the idea to socially anchor corporate wellness to a business culture. The Social Anchor Theory (SAT) states that there are institutions which serve as anchor for social networks by providing networks and relationships. It is assumed that this theory can be used in a business context, where corporate wellness provides a way to interact and socialize. Even further, by preparing and training specifically for such a long-term event, the overall process could reiterate the values of a company as follows: First, the ecological idea supports claims for environmental friendliness. Second, team work as a core principle can be reinforced during such an event, given that the challenges of a 10-days adventure race depends on the success of all members of the team and not just of one individual (i.e. usually a team is disqualified if one member opts-out). Third, usually those events require a mix of genders to compete, which might allow fostering equality within a company.
In conclusion, it is the assumption of the applicant that corporate wellness is a potential social anchor and can serve to develop a business community on several levels. The proposed corporate wellness program, including the events, could provide the context which brings individuals together for interactions and making connections that build networks. An active lifestyle within a company can serve for both, bonding and bridging of social capital and can as well contribute to a sense of identity.
It is expected that developing events as outlined above will provide business value. Creativity, fostering corporate values, building networks and social capital are qualitative improvements which underline the novelty of the overall proposal. In addition, the quantitative measures, as outlined above, will be supported by intangible assets which can be created.
Within this proposal it is assumed that an employee workshop as outlined above will create an innovative friendly culture to facilitate creativity and make a workplace more attractive. The suggested executive event will further build social capital and lead to a better connection with a company’s core values. It is argued that if managers live company values throughout preparation and participating in corporate wellness events, employees are more likely to follow and will better identify themselves with the company’s subculture.
Anticipated problems and alternative strategies.
No different to the first two objectives of this grant proposal, it is assumed that finding the right company will be difficult. A business in its first steps to invest in corporate wellness, where management is yet to be convinced of the quantitative benefits, will hardly be swayed to participate and train for events as outlined above. However, statistics have shown that within the United States several companies have developed a comprehensive corporate wellness program similar to the one proposed earlier. Therefore, it is suggested to identify those corporations and use their interest and appeal to promote an active lifestyle to implement the ideas above.
Further, even if a company is interested, identifying the participants could constitute another issue. An adventure race, in particular, is challenging both mentally and physically. Thus it requires training, preparation and commitment, though time is limited at management level. Additionally, participants should be representative for the company as a whole, representing diversity to reiterate corporate values. The applicant would therefore suggest providing wild-cards to employees if not enough participants can be found. This, in turn, would further spark interest among the workforce and make it not too ‘exclusive’.