Developing a successful wellness program for your organization is not something that can be accomplished in an afternoon with a few calls to your insurance provider and a yoga instructor. A strategic approach to wellness that promotes employee engagement and desired outcomes should involve a four-step process and follow 10 specific guidelines. Read the first in a three-part series discussing how to successfully develop and implement a wellness program that promotes employee engagement and fits and promotes your company’s culture.
One thing to note before you start announcing your program are the common barriers employees cite for not signing onto the wellness parade. Some of these include insufficient incentives / motivation; inconvenient locations; time limitations; and lack of relevance, interest and information. However, research has found that the most common reason employees don’t participate (69 percent!) is that they don’t know about the program. Overcoming all these barriers is not easy, but it can be done if your program is created and implemented properly. In this blog post, we will cover Phase 1 – assessment – which includes three of the 10 elements for success.
Phase I: Assessment
1. Gather Relevant Data
To develop a successful wellness program, you need to answer two questions: what areas of wellness are your employees interested in and what health risks are most prevalent in your employee population? The more data you can gather the more relevant your program will be to your employees. Use Health Risk Assessments, biometric data and insurance claims to answer the first question. You may be surprised by what the data reveals. To gather information for the second question, ask your employees to complete a needs and interest survey. It’s important that your strategy include both the health risks of your population and the health behaviors they are interested in improving. If your program addresses both questions, your participation and engagement rates will be higher. Why go through the time and expense of implementing a fitness challenge when your employees want to learn about proper nutrition and better sleep health? Aligning your program with your employees’ needs and interests will yield the best results.
2. Consider Your Partners and Supporters
As you begin to develop your wellness program, reach out to the partners your organization currently works with such as your health insurance carrier, your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and your benefits consultant. Why reinvent the wheel and spend more money than you need to? Ask about programs or benefits that may already be available to you through these partners. For another layer, requiring a bit more work, you can contact local businesses or professionals (yoga instructors, massage therapists, fitness centers, etc.,) and national health organizations (American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and the National Cancer Institute) for materials and possible on-site visits for a health fair or lecture. Consider hiring a wellness vendor to coordinate the programs offered by these organizations and pull together a strategy and execute it. Having a ‘quarterback’ to pull all of the offerings into a cohesive approach can mean the difference between a program that ‘checks the box’ and one that promotes results.
3. Assess Your Available Resources
In addition to partners and supporters, assess the resources you have within your organization. Do you have any internal staff who are experts on nutrition, mental health issues or fitness? If so, ask them to run educational events or seminars featuring their content area. Does your organization already offer a gym discount to employees? If you do, be sure to incorporate this into your wellness program. If you have an onsite cafeteria, work with the staff to create healthy food options, feature healthy meals and develop cooking demos/tastings. Once you do some research, you will be amazed by how many resources you have at your fingertips.
When you are finished assessing your organization’s data, partners and resources, you can move on to Phase 2 – developing a customized strategy. Stay tuned next month for the three elements of a successful wellness program strategy.