Employees spend about a third of their life at work. Developing a workplace wellness program can be a powerful tool for creating a happier, healthier workforce. A wellness program can help employees achieve work-life balance and access mental and physical health care.
Well-designed corporate wellness programs have been found to reduce absenteeism, minimize injuries, and lower health care and disability-related costs. Aside from the financial return on investment, employers can reap benefits such as higher employee morale and productivity, better performance and engagement, and improved recruitment and retention.
While there are a variety of approaches to creating a successful wellness program, the following steps are critical to getting your program off the ground:
1. Obtain Management Support
Building an effective wellness program requires management support. As with any initiative, management buy-in is essential for funding and approving program policies and practices. Moreover, leadership support will encourage others to participate and take the program seriously.
To gain support, you’ll most likely need to give a presentation to the executives and demonstrate the program’s worth in three key areas: employee benefits, employer benefits, and strategic goals. To increase the likelihood that senior management will approve your wellness program, tailor your presentation to the company’s mission and objectives.
2. Conduct Employee Assessments
Collecting information on the employees’ health is an important step in developing a corporate wellness program. This knowledge will help you design programs that benefit both the organization and the employees.
Instead of creating an entire program based on your assumptions about what your employees want, conduct assessments to see how you can best meet their wellness needs. Employee surveys and health assessments can help you analyze and understand your organization’s wellness interests and requirements, enabling you to design your program accordingly.
3. Form a Wellness Committee
Once you have a general idea of what your employees need, form a wellness committee—a group of committed employees who will help plan, implement, and promote the wellness program.
The size of your committee will depend on the scope of your program and the number of employees. Make sure that all employee shifts, levels, and departments are represented.
You may also want to explore rotating committee members over time so that more employees and fresh ideas can advance the program in new directions.
4. Set a Budget
Most organizations do not have an unlimited budget for wellness programs. Determine how much you can afford to spend on the program and design a program type that fits that budget.
Consider the cost of planning and design, marketing and promotional materials, incentives for participation, vendors, wellness subscriptions, fitness trackers, and other essential program components when estimating the cost of the corporate wellness program.
5. Design the Components of the Wellness Program
Include a range of wellness components in the program. These components would be based on internal research and surveys that target employees’ preferences, needs, interests, and health risk inclinations.
The extent to which an organization plans to be involved in and accountable for the health and well-being of the employees would also impact the components of the wellness program. Some components may include health risk assessments, vaccination clinics, exercise and physical activities, weight loss programs, and nutrition education.
Several companies have embraced locally-sourced food as part of their wellness strategy to encourage employees to develop healthy habits and eat nutritious food.
6. Write a Wellness Policy
The following step is to draft and disseminate the company’s wellness policy. This policy statement should outline the organization’s objective, degree of involvement, and rewards and incentives system for employee health and wellness.
Work toward policies and procedures that meet your employees’ needs and empower them to participate. Provide the support they need to achieve their goals and reward them when they do. Celebrate their achievements with recognition in company newsletters or during company wellness seminars.
7. Collect Feedback and Evaluate the Program
Assess your program regularly to determine what’s working and what’s not, and then make adjustments as necessary. Be on the lookout for any patterns in employee participation and response to the wellness program you provide. Gather feedback and have frequent meetings with the wellness committee to discuss how to continually improve the program.
Over time, employees who participate in the wellness program will have positive experiences and results to share. Highlighting these success stories may encourage non-participants to join the program and help increase its popularity among employees.
Furthermore, while evaluating your ROI through decreased claims and insurance costs is important, your greatest savings may be in fewer absences, increased employee engagement, and higher productivity.
Nurture a Culture of Wellness
Wellness programs are known to positively impact the health and lifestyle habits of employees, bringing many benefits to organizations. Investing in an effective wellness program is just the first step. To build and maintain better employee well-being over time, employers and leaders must invest in shifting the company culture to one of wellness