There are many different types of wellness programs. The purpose of these programs is to promote healthy lifestyle wellness initiatives and can include smoking cessation programs, on-site gyms, healthy food initiatives, wellness education and much more. While some businesses have instituted very comprehensive health programs, others have achieved savings or increased productivity with just a few simple activities that promote healthy behaviors. What’s most important is to commit to wellness promotion in your organization.
Why Promote Wellness in the Workplace?
Worksite health promotion is an investment in your most important asset: your employees. Studies have shown that employees are more likely to be on the job and performing well when they are in optimal health. Benefits of implementing a wellness program include:
· Lower health care costs, due to a healthier workforce and improved disease management
· Enhanced recruiting by attracting the most talented workers
· Reduced absenteeism and improved productivity
· Improved on-the-job time utilization, decision making and productivity
· Improved employee morale
· Reduction in turnover
Best Practices When Developing a Wellness Program
The Wellness Council of America (WELCOA), an organization dedicated to the promotion of worksite wellness, has identified seven best practices (“The Seven Benchmarks”) for employers to follow when building a comprehensive, effective worksite wellness program within their organization.
Capture senior-level support. A commitment from the top is critical to the success of any wellness initiative. Management must understand the benefits of the program for both the employees and the organization, and be willing to commit sufficient funding.
Create a wellness team. Wellness teams should include a cross-section of people from all levels of your company to ensure broad ownership of the program,.
Collect data that will drive your health initiatives. Once your team is in place and management is on board, it is time to gather baseline data to help assess employee health interests and risks, which will guide you in crafting your program. This process may involve a survey of employee interest in various health initiatives, health risk assessments (HRAs) and claims analysis to determine current employee disease risk.
Craft an annual operating plan. This is important for your program’s success and should include a mission statement along with specific, measurable short- and long-term goals and objectives.
Choose appropriate health initiatives. The initiatives that you choose should flow naturally from your data (survey, HRA aggregate report, claims) and be cohesive with your goals and objectives.
Create a supportive environment. A supportive environment provides employees with encouragement, opportunity and rewards. A culture of health might have such features as healthy food choices in the vending machines, a no-smoking policy and flexible work schedules that allow workers to exercise. Also, your workplace should celebrate and reward health achievements and have a management team that models healthy behavior.
Consistently evaluate your outcomes. Evaluation involves taking a close look at your goals and objectives to determine whether you achieved your desired result.
Developing an Operating Plan
One feature that all successful worksite wellness programs share is an outcome-oriented operating plan. An operating plan is important because it:
· Links wellness initiatives to company needs and strategic priorities
· Legitimizes the program, which increases the likelihood of continued resources and support
· Provides continuity for the program when personnel changes occur
· Serves as a means to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs
Your operating plan should contain the following elements:
· Vision Statement
· Communication Plan
· Implementation Plan
· Evaluation Plan
Wellness Programs for Smaller Companies
Many companies simply do not have the resources to create a large, complex wellness program. In fact, many groups struggle just to provide health insurance for their employees. However, targeting wellness is still important for smaller companies, because wellness efforts have been proven to:
· Improve company morale and productivity.
· Reduce overall health care costs.
· Retain and attract employees.
Though your organization may not be able to fund a comprehensive wellness program, you can do some low- or even no-cost things to improve the health and wellness of your employees. Consider these ideas:
· Ask a local hospital, non-profit organization or other health care provider to come and provide presentations to your employees on living healthy lifestyles.
· Ask your broker if your health insurance carrier offers free health risk assessments (most do).
· Create a wellness committee consisting of various employees to lead the effort. Start with simple activities, such as healthy eating days and lunchtime walks.
· Make your workplace smoke-free.
· Offer on-site flu shots for free or at a reduced cost.
· Provide healthy vending machine choices.
· Provide physical activity breaks during the day for your employees and encourage them to go outside for a quick run or walk. Encourage taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
· Provide educational materials about the benefits of healthy eating, exercising, not smoking and other lifestyle changes. Ask your broker about the Live Well, Work Well newsletter and series along with posters and other communications to support your efforts.
To find out more about how a PEO can help you manage and administer your company’s wellness programs, contact the LL Roberts Group (toll free) at 877.878.6463 or visit them online at www.llroberts.com.