In last month’s blog post, we covered wellness program assessment and the first three elements of a successful wellness program: gathering relevant data, considering your partners and supporters, and assessing your available resources. This month, we’ll cover the second phase – your strategy – and the three critical elements you need to address to develop a program your employees will embrace.
Phase 2: Strategy
Gather Senior Level Support
Senior level executives control the finances, your organization’s agenda, and all of the communication channels. Because of these realities, succeeding over the long haul without senior level support is virtually impossible. To gain senior level support, answer these questions:
- Who supports wellness ?
- Who believes in fitness?
- Who is concerned with the budget?
- Who is looking for cost containment?
To engage senior management, determine each manager’s pain point and make employee wellness a solution to that pain point. It’s also important to ask managers for their input, make their job easy, offer regular communications, share wellness program successes and make them look good. In addition, be sure to ask the right questions so they continue to support the program. For example, “What data do you need from me?”
Having executive level support is key to the success of any wellness program. Having executives actually participate in the wellness program sends an even better message. A letter from the CEO introducing the wellness program sends the message that it is something important to the company. Executives participating in a walking challenge or attending seminars sends the message that it’s important that employees are healthy.
Develop a Cohesive Wellness Program
The next step is to develop a cohesive program for your employees. When developing your wellness program, make a determination about the type of wellness program that will work for your organization’s culture and workforce. You’ll also need to decide what type of wellness program you want based on the resources you have available and the constraints you need to work within (time, budget, staff, etc.). There are three program models you can choose from:
Feel Good Wellness
Feel good wellness programs are implemented by employers that want to raise morale and offer a fun, activity-focused program for their employees. These voluntary initiatives are not personalized, do not focus on reducing risk and employers do not evaluate the results. Typically, light incentives are offered. For example, individual employees will not earn an incentive; instead, employees who participate will be entered into a raffle and a certain percentage will win an incentive. Participation rates for these programs run between 15 and 30 percent.
Traditional wellness programs are voluntary, often have weak personalization and offer moderate incentives. These initiatives are activity-oriented and provide some health risk reduction with a focus on high-risk employees. Employees earn individual incentives for participating. These programs are evaluated based on the number of employees who participate. Participation rates for these programs run between 20 and 50 percent.
Results-driven wellness programs center on improving health and productivity with a strong focus on risk reduction and high-risk employees. These programs are highly personalized, offer major incentives (i.e., premium reductions) and make some program offerings mandatory. Employers implement rigorous evaluation methods, which are based on program results. Participation rates for these programs run between 65 and 95 percent.
Each of these three program types offer benefits to your organization. They key is choosing the one that meets your goals and objectives, is a good fit for your employees, and meets your resources and constraints.
Craft an Operating Plan
Develop a plan for your wellness program. A thorough plan will include: a vision/mission statement, program goals, and specific objectives, implementation and timeline specifics, marketing and communications plans, an itemized budget, and a plan to evaluate program efforts. As you develop your plan, take the following into consideration:
Branding – brand your program the same way you would brand a business or new product; this will develop awareness for your program (program name, logo, tag line, art style, etc.)
Staffing – determine how you will staff your initiative: internal employees, vendor staff, wellness design team, wellness advisory group (team)
Proposal – develop a program that includes a working plan, goals, objectives, a budget and means for evaluation
When you are finished developing a strategy for your organization’s wellness initiative, you can move on to Phase 3 and Phase 4 – implementation and evaluation. Stay tuned next month for the final four elements of a successful wellness program.