Why former AFL player James Podsiadly wants to change how businesses operate corporate wellness programs

There’s still a long way to go when it comes to business’s tackling wellbeing in the workplace, according to former AFL player James Podsiadly.

Podsiadly, who is now an assistant coach for the Adelaide Football Club, last week launched an online corporate wellness platform he hopes will help small and medium sized businesses encourage their employees to thrive both at home and at work.

Together with co-founder, Paul Baulch, the former Geelong and Adelaide footballer started working on the business after realising many corporate wellness programs only took into account certain factors – instead of looking at an employee’s life as a whole.

Baulch has previously worked in health and safety for large Australian companies, including Coles and Telstra.

The Wellbeing Challenge allows employees to download an app that encourages them to work on particular aspects of their lives, such as exercise, nutrition, sleep, wellness and even personal finances.

Despite it only being available to the public for a few days, several businesses have already signed up including two large corporates and two smaller businesses.

“There’s a massive gap between what people know about wellbeing and health and what they actually do,” Podsiadly says.

“We have to bridge that gap.”

To do that, The Wellbeing Challenge identifies a user’s strengths and weaknesses and personalises a set of daily challenges.

From an employer’s perspective, they can then see how engaged employees are and tweak their corporate wellness program accordingly.

“What we saw was the majority of wellbeing programs rolled out in workplaces weren’t holistic,” Podsiadly says.

“They tended to be exercise focused, or nutrition focused. But the research we’ve done and seen is the number one and two reasons that people have stress in their lives are personal finances and relationships. So when we talk about rolling out a wellbeing program, nutrition, exercise and sleep has to be part of that but it needs to be holistic.”

Podsiadly points out that employee wellness programs have been around for decades but says he hopes by launching The Wellbeing Challenge, the way businesses approach company health and culture will be catapulted into the 21st century.

“Wellbeing will form a part of every workplace’s culture in the future,” Podsiadly says.

“But there’s still a lag in small to medium businesses. So from our perspective, and a business growth perspective, that’s where the opportunities lie.”


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