In our August and September blog posts, we discussed wellness program assessment and strategy and the first six elements of a successful employee well-being program. This month, we’ll cover the third and fourth phases – implementation and evaluation – and the last four elements you need to develop a successful wellness program for your organization.
Phase 3: Implementation
Choose Your Interventions
Intervention planning is a process that should be tied to data and evaluation. Tie your programming decisions back to the data you collected. Programs must meet your organization’s needs as well as the interests of your employees. Be sure to consider the health and wellness interests of your employees selected in the surveys you issued and the health needs and risks of your population from claims data. It’s also important to assess your business operations – do you need to accommodate employees who work different shifts, is your population diverse in terms of job function and education, are you trying to engage a population that is dispersed across various locations throughout the country? The answers to these questions will determine the type of programs you should offer and how your program should be implemented.
Structure the Environment
The goal of structuring your organization’s work environment is to improve and enhance the physical work setting. By aspiring to create a more supportive culture and a healthier work environment, wellness becomes easier for your employees. Take a look at the food offerings in your cafeteria and vending machines, as well as the food that is offered at company meetings. If you find that healthy options are lacking, work with your food vendors to provide healthy options throughout the day. Keep in minds that developing a healthy environment goes beyond nutrition. Consider asking managers to host standing or walking meetings so employees spend less time sitting. Post healthy reminders throughout your building with tips about taking the stairs rather than the elevator and parking farther from the building to increase the number of steps taken each day. If your organization has not addressed smoking, this is also a good time to implement a no smoking policy on company grounds.
Communicate Your Plan
Employees can’t engage in your wellness program if they don’t know you offer one. Communication is a key component of a successful wellness program. The number one reason employees cite for not participating in an employer-sponsored wellness program is that they did not know about it. You need to let your employees know what you are going to do to help keep them healthy, how you are going to roll out the program, what will be involved and how they can participate. Make sure to communicate in all forms — email, flyers, newsletters, postcards sent to their home address, etc. Your communications should include the overall goals of your program in addition to the specific wellness offerings – biometric screenings, personal health assessments, nutrition programs, wellness challenges, financial fitness seminars, cooking demonstrations, emotional wellness initiatives and anything else that is part of your program. Cleary explain your program and its benefits and make it easy to participate. Effective wellness communications convey the following messages:
- Your organization is offering a great opportunity
- Your organization cares about its employees
- Your organization values the health of its employees
- Employee participation is voluntary, and results are confidential
- Employees who participate will receive an incentive
- Your data is safe and private
Phase 4: Evaluation
Evaluate the Results
It’s hard to measure the success of a program if you aren’t tracking anything. Take the time to evaluate your wellness program. Wellness programs generate meaningful data and your organization’s goals can be measured by carefully tracking this data. The data can also be used to help you improve future programming and increase engagement, participation and results. You will gain a wealth of knowledge that will help you determine your program’s future path. Below are some common ways to evaluate program success.
Participation rates. One of the most common metrics used by employers is to track participation rates. How many employees are participating in programs? Be sure to look at the reach of your programs. Are you consistently getting the same group of people or are you reaching a wide audience by offering varying topics of interest? Are your numbers increasing over time? What types of programs attract the most participants? Use this information to develop future targeted programs.
Surveys. Survey your employees and find out how happy they are with the programs you offer. Ask for feedback on their favorite programs, their least favorite programs and their ideas for future programs. If you are giving your employees programs that they want, not only will satisfaction be high, but participation rates will be too.
Measure outcomes. Measure behavior changes by evaluating data from Personal Health Assessments and biometric screenings year-over-year. Tracking data over time makes it easy to determine if employees are moving from high risk to low risk groups. You should also review medical claims data after the first year of your program. The information you gain will tell you if claims have been reduced in the areas that your wellness program is designed to target.
Employers that use the 10 key elements highlighted in our three-part series can develop and implement an employee well-being initiative that is both sustainable and successful. Wellness Workdays helps employers throughout the country develop comprehensive, customized programs. Contact us if you’d like help developing a program for your workforce or if you want to enhance an existing program.