Jumpstart Your Corporate Wellness Program
Many companies often contemplate starting a corporate wellness program; however, creating a program can often times seem overwhelming. Questions like, “Where do I begin” or “How do I get my employees engaged?” are barriers that can be difficult to overcome. With health care costs on the rise, there’s no better time to get kick-off a wellness program and with a few simple steps, you will be on your way in no time.
Get Buy-In from Management
The first step, and arguably the most important, is to gain support from senior management. Wellness starts at the top of your organization and research shows that the most successful wellness programs exist when a company aligns wellness initiatives with their values and company culture. Lead by example. If employees notice senior management making a vested interest in their health and well being, they’ll be more inclined to engage in the program.
Recruit Champions of Wellness
Now that you have received the support from the leaders of your organization, the next step is to form a wellness committee. A comprehensive wellness program is a large task and can be overwhelming for a single individual to take on. A wellness committee is an excellent opportunity for employees to get involved, and can assist the organization in the planning of wellness events. Ask employees that are passionate about wellness. Maybe there’s an employee that loves to compete in races on the weekends or perhaps someone in the office is notorious for making nutritious food. Many employees would love to be involved; all it takes is for you to ask! How many people should be on a committee? There’s no magic number; however, the larger your organization, the more employees you may want to include. For instance, if you’re an employer with 50 employees, your wellness committee may consist of a team of five people. If you’re a smaller employer with 15 employees, you may only need two or three individuals.
Once you have secured senior support and recruited wellness team members, the next step is to identify health risks within your organization. There are two recommended components: Health Risk Assessment and Biometric Screenings. The Health Risk Assessment, or HRA, is a questionnaire that contains a series of lifestyle and behavior questions. Biometric Screenings provide employees with baseline data by testing cholesterol, triglycerides, platelet count, glucose, etc. Together, these assessments identify risks for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, anxiety, and stress. It’s important for employees to know their numbers and as a result, can give better direction of the wellness program.
Once employees know their numbers, the fun part begins. After completing Biometric Screenings/HRA’s, there is now a better understanding on the areas of wellness that interest employees. Aim to have wellness events spaced throughout the entire year. This helps to maintain interest and utilize resources in and around your community when planning events. If there’s a park or trail near your office, start a walking program during lunch. If employees express interest in eating healthy, arrange for a nutritionist to give a presentation on wholesome cooking. Use your imagination and get creative; the ideas and opportunities are endless.
It’s essential after the first year of a corporate wellness program to look back and evaluate. This process allows you to stop and think about your program to determine what is and isn’t working. Think about what events were successes, and what events could have been better. Distribute a survey to get opinions and feedback from employees, and come up with a plan of action for the next year.
It’s not uncommon for companies to start their program off with a “bang” only to lose focus and wellness to fall by the wayside. Show employees that your company is dedicated and committed to wellness throughout the entire year and the years to come. A comprehensive wellness program should be seen as a long-term investment and with time, not only will there be financial benefits, but employees will be happier, more productive, and healthier.