There’s never a better time to start a workplace wellness program than now!
“When workplace wellness programs are implemented correctly by using thorough, company-specific research and planning, they have win-win potential for both the employer and the employees.”
That’s according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in “Wellness Programs: How can wellness programs benefit employers, and what are the general steps for implementing a wellness program?” *
SHRM observes that wellness programs can benefit employers by:
- Lowering health care costs.
- Reducing absenteeism.
- Achieving higher employee productivity.
- Reducing workers’ compensation and disability-related costs.
- Reducing injuries.
- Improving employee morale and loyalty.
In “Quick Shots for #HR and Business Pros–#Wellness Edition,” HR consultant Sharlyn Lauby notes:
“According to the Centers for Disease Control, cardiovascular disease—including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is the number one killer of women and men in the U.S. It’s also the leading cause of disability, preventing Americans from working and enjoying family activities, as well as costing the nation over $300 billion each year from the cost of health care services, medications and lost productivity.”
How to Start a Workplace Wellness program?
A workplace wellness program can be as simple as structured lunch-time walks or sponsored team athletic events, to state-of-the-art fitness centers, healthy living programs and on-site counseling. If you are just starting out, there’s no harm in starting small, learning what works and expand offerings over-time.
According to SHRM, the basic steps to starting a workplace wellness program include the following. SHRM members can login and download a free toolkit called “Designing and Managing Wellness Programs”.
- Establish the goal of the wellness program.
- Decide the company’s level of involvement in the program.
- Establish the budget and expected ROI.
- Choose employee rewards.
- Write and communicate the policy/program.
A Checklist for success
As SHRM says, correct implementation of your workplace wellness program is essential for success.
Health Advocates offers step-by-step guidelines to help make sure your program is successful in “Setting Up a Wellness Program: A Checklist for Success.”
“Whether you choose to invest in a full-blown fitness center, online health programs, smoking cessation program, onsite biometric screenings or any other component or combination, the elements for successful participation remain the same”:
- Establish a “wellness” team to plan and launch the program. It helps get employee buy-in and lends your wellness program a human face.
- Determine the goals of your program and tailor them to your workforce’s needs and interests. Goals might include: reducing healthcare costs, increasing production, decreasing absenteeism, and using wellness as a recruiting and retention benefit.
- Create your budget, along with manageable implementation steps and an achievable timeline to ensure an effective launch.
- Build in measurements. Determine how and when outcomes—such as a number of employees who experienced weight loss—will be measured.
- Create a wellness culture by enlisting visible top-management participation and making your workplace healthy. This might include offering on-site seminars and exercise opportunities, providing healthy food options, posting signs that encourage people to take the stairs, and organizing group walks.
- Communicate effectively through social media, newsletters, posters, and other means. Educate employees about health benefits, invite them to events and activities, encourage participation, and provide tips for easily adopting healthy behaviors.
- Provide incentives for participation and achieving goals. Consider reducing participants’ healthcare premiums or giving discounts for gym memberships.
- Celebrate group successes by spotlighting results, such as total pounds lost in a weight-loss challenge, posting participation numbers, and hosting celebrations with healthy snacks and fun activities.
Lauby’s post shares examples of successful wellness programs for inspiration.
“The Wellness Project NYC has created what I’d call a virtual boot camp–regular email reminders for employees to help them stay on track and motivated, especially where their eating habits are concerned. They also provide resources and tips to human resources pros to help them administer the program.
Another company focused on helping employees develop good habits–this time in the exercise area–is [email protected]. It’s a fitness community to encourage people to stay active. The work program allows companies to create custom challenges that employees can participate in.”
For more great inspiration on workplace wellness in action, check out our recent post, “Why Alaska is the Model for Workplace Wellness”. Who would have thought an entire State would be a good model?
Remember, your workplace wellness program doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, it just has to fit your budget and workforce so people will participate and have fun.
For a comprehensive guide to growing your workplace’s culture of health and happiness, download our FREE eBook: Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude.
* (note: if you are not a SHRM member and link doesn’t open, copy & paste article title and search via google to open).
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