Does your company have an employee wellness program? No? You might want to start thinking about it. A program focused on physical, mental and financial health can help improve overall employee satisfaction. And happy employees are more productive employees. Here are some things to consider before you create an employee wellness program.
Get Executive Support
Don’t go rogue and try to launch your wellness program in the dark. Seek support from other departments like corporate fitness center, HR, and the company cafeteria. Then make sure you have the full support of your leadership team and that everyone approves your set of goals.
Here are some tips to help you get executive support for an employee wellness program initiative:
- Highlight the financial benefits: Show how a wellness program can reduce healthcare costs, improve productivity and reduce absenteeism.
- Share success stories and research: Provide examples of other companies that have implemented similar programs and the positive results they have seen.
- Tailor the program to the company’s needs: Show how the program aligns with the company’s values and objectives.
- Get buy-in from employees: Show that there is interest and support for the program among employees.
- Create a detailed plan and budget: Outline the program’s goals, objectives, and expected outcomes, as well as the costs and potential return on investment.
- Communicate the program’s value to all stakeholders: Show how the program will benefit employees, managers, and the company as a whole.
- Show that you are committed to making it a success: Highlight that you will take the lead in implementing and managing the program and will be responsible for measuring its success.
- Find a champion within the company: Identify an executive who can support the program and act as a liaison between you and upper management.
A year after you launch your employee wellness program, how will you know it was successful? Unless you establish upfront goals, “success” can’t be measured, and you’ll probably end your wellness program as a failed experiment.
Make sure that your goals are simple, easy to measure and achievable. Don’t go in trying to drive down claims and instantly reduce medical costs for your company. That’s a long term result.
Start smaller. Consider sending out an employee survey and scoring overall employee satisfaction. Then a year later send out the same survey and rate your success by the improvement score.
Align With Your Brand
Successful wellness programs will connect with your company’s mission and identity. How to approach this is entirely up to you. Every company is different, and you will need to get creative on ways that your wellness program can align with your company and its mission.
Does your company volunteer regularly? Consider outdoor volunteer activities that help employees get extra exercise. Are you a beverage company? Encourage water consumption at the office. Marketing? Create an ad campaign that promotes wellness.
Evolve & Customize
When planning your employee wellness program, don’t approach it like you are writing the 10 commandments. Your wellness program needs to be a living part of your company. It needs to evolve with the needs of your employees and change over time.
Executive Participation In The Employee Wellness Program
Make it clear from the beginning that the leadership team in your company needs to be active in all wellness program activities. It’s not enough for your executive team to just support and fund your wellness program. They must also visibly participate and set an example for other employees.
Without consistent executive participation, most programs will fail or fade away.
Give Executives Something to Talk About
All executives need positive stories to tell. These stories get told to other executives in your company, counterparts in your industry and even at trade shows and conferences.
Your wellness program needs a great narrative. Prepare little stories of how your wellness program has helped employees and increased loyalty at your company. These can be blog posts or just part of your company newsletter.
Track and show your employees their results and hold them accountable for their progress. For example, exercise progress, days without smoking, weight loss, steps walked, etc.
You can even “gamify” these activities and reward employees with either financial or workplace rewards. For example, if an entire department collectively loses 100 pounds, then give them an extra day off from work. People are more motivated when they get something in return.
Research Your Employee Needs
Before you establish goals or targets for your employee wellness program, do your homework. Analyze company benefit claims and conduct employee surveys. Data will help you define target areas and what your employees want to gain from your wellness programs.
For example, according to Jonathan Johnson‘s presentation at the 2015 Utah Business Utah Healthcare Summit, Overstock.com found that a majority of their medial 2014 claims were mental health related. If Overstock blindly focused their wellness program on physical activities, then they would have failed before they started.
Don’t Be “Big Brother”
Even though it might make sense for both the company and employees to create policies like a “smoke-free” campus or workplace, resist the urge to be “big brother” and force behavior on your employees. Try to encourage them to make healthy choices for themselves.
Motivation Needs To Be A Mix of Carrots & Sticks
An employee wellness program isn’t a “set it and forget it” endeavor. Employees will need constant motivation to stay active. Employees who don’t participate shouldn’t get the same rewards or insurance discounts as employees who do participate.
Additionally, no one thing will engage and motivate every employee. Be flexible and open. Think about reimbursing expenses that encourage positive health. Here are some ideas:
- Provide free access to a company fitness center or reduced membership fees.
- Reimburse employees for wellness-related activities, like yoga mats, protein powder, Pilates, etc.
- Host lunch and learn sessions to help employees learn about wellness benefits.
- Gamify your wellness program by giving employees points for participation. Points can help employees earn discounts to insurance premiums or rewards like a Fitbit or Apple Watch.
- Ask partners and your healthcare providers to donate prizes to your wellness program.
- Change the menu in office vending machines to include healthy options and less junk food.
Consider Hiring A 3rd Party Partner
It’s hard to take on new projects when you’re already busy with your daily workload. A 3rd party consultant can help you justify the costs of an employee wellness program, collect data, and make employees feel more comfortable about sharing personal info, like weight or medical issues.
Employee Wellness Program Benefits
An initiative that prioritizes the well-being of employees in terms of physical fitness, mental health, and financial stability can lead to increased job satisfaction, which in turn results in higher productivity among the workforce. Investing in the well-being of employees can also be a powerful recruitment tool, as potential hires are increasingly looking for employers who prioritize their overall well-being.
Overall, a comprehensive employee wellness program that addresses the physical, mental and financial health of employees can lead to significant benefits for both the employees and the organization.
Have you launched an employee wellness program at your company? What have you learned? Please share any tips in the comments.
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