Simple Steps to Create a Successful Corporate Employee Wellness Program

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Learn how to start a corporate wellness program that employees will want to join.

Workplace health promotion programs, more commonly known as wellness programs are becoming more and more commonplace, but not all Wellness Programs are created equal! And most of the time this comes down to how they are designed and executed.

Building an employee wellness program can be an effective way to achieve a happier, healthier workforce. All of these factors add up to higher productivity levels, which can generate additional revenues for the business.

Here are some simple steps to help create a healthy Employee Wellness Program.

Management Support:

You can not start building a wellness program if you do not have support from the leadership at your company. To obtain support, you will likely need to provide a presentation to the executives and communicate the value of the program in a few key areas:

1. Employee benefits: Convey how the program might improve the condition of the workforce (for example, by helping workers feel more engaged and less stressed).

2. Employer benefits: Communicate how this benefits the company (for example, by improving workplace morale and productivity and reducing employer health insurance premium costs).

3. Strategic goals: Demonstrate how the plan supports previously stated objectives of the company (for example, by boosting employee retention and recruitment).

Tailor your presentation to the company mission and the objectives and leadership style of executives to improve the odds that upper management will sign off on a wellness program.

Assemble a Wellness Committee:

Once you have a general sense of what employees need after sending out a simple company-wide survey, appoint a wellness committee—a group of employees who helps plan, roll out and advocate for a wellness program within an organization.

The committee should comprise employees from diverse corporate levels and departments, including the executive team, human resources, information technology, and the general employee population.

Set a Budget:

Find out what the budget for these programs so that you can decide how much you have available within your budget restrictions.

To put a number to the corporate wellness program, factor in the following:

  • Fees for employee benefits companies and vendors
  • Wellness technology
  • Program promotion costs
  • Program incentive costs
  • Cost of time spent by your staff on program planning.

Establish a Corporate Wellness Program:

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Based on your budget and the needs revealed by the workforce survey, gather the wellness committee, and compile a few broad types of corporate wellness programs that fit the bill. Common types of wellness programs include:

  • Education programs: These hands-off programs provide employees access to self-guided training so they can pursue healthy habits on their own.
  • Community building: These employers- or employee-led programs help foster positive relationships between employees in and outside of work through company clubs or recreational sports teams.
  • Preventative care programs: Employers who implement these programs enlist wellness vendors to conduct on-site health screenings or offer tailored programs.
  • Healthy habits: With only 30 minutes for lunch, many team members may feel that they must eat fast food when buying their lunch. Bandwidth offers a 90-minute Fitness Lunch to their team members—enough time to play a sport, hit the gym, or to head home for a healthy homemade lunch. Google and Pixar set the bar high with its cafeterias, offering catered lunches and snacks to team members throughout the day. Services have popped up recently that will deliver healthy snacks to your office,
  • Paramedical services: Often will include massage therapy, on-site yoga classes, gym membership discounts, or on-site fitness centers to their team members while they are at work.
  • Wellness adventures: Like many companies, Zappos offers fitness subsidies, health benefits, and wellness reimbursements. According to their wellness coordinators, physical activity is important but should not be made mandatory. As a part of their wellness efforts, the Zappos team schedules optional wellness adventures for their employees with the goal of getting away from their desks for a little while. This could look like a one-hour golf lesson or even laser tag. The wellness adventures are kept broad to appeal to a wide range of people, and most importantly, are focused on having fun.

Partner With an Employee Benefits Company and Wellness Vendors:

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Companies generally do not administer corporate wellness plans on their own. A corporate wellness program requires the assistance of many people and resources, most notably an employee benefits company and wellness vendors.

Work directly with an insurance consultant to find an employee benefits company that caters to your budget and the wellness programs you want to offer. You will also need to choose and then connect multiple local wellness vendors to provide services like on-site massage therapy and healthy cooking demos, or products like discounted wellness gear.

Develop a Written Employee Wellness Policy:

As with any other employee policy you create, you should publish clear employee wellness program guidelines in conjunction with your wellness committee and make them part of your employee handbook before employees enroll in the program.

Distribute the guidelines when recruiting and when enrolling employees in their benefit plans. Likewise, put up posters around the workplace to educate employees about the wellness initiative.

Roll Out the Wellness Program:

Communicate the newly established system of perks to your employees. The best way for companies to alert employees to the plan is through an onsite health and wellness fair for employees and their families. Work with local vendors to participate and include a wide variety of interests to make this a popular event, such as nutrition, fitness, and stress management.

Schedule the wellness fair at least two months before the annual open enrollment period so that employees can determine what their current health care needs are and what wellness program offerings will meet those needs.

Gather Feedback and Results for Future Improvements:

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Did you know that workplace wellness programs have been shown to reduce employee sick days and medical costs? They can also improve productivity and enhance the overall mood and well-being of your staff.

Be on the alert for any trends in the way employees respond to and participate in the wellness program you offer. Make sure to collect this feedback and meet with the wellness committee regularly to brainstorm ideas for how to continually improve the program.

Over time, positive stories will emerge from the ranks of those who take part in the wellness offerings. Highlighting these stories can help attract non-participants to the program to make it even more popular among employees.

If you need help with implementing a corporate Wellness Plan or any other facet of your employee benefits plan, contact us at questions@planprofessionals.com 

Cara Lovenson is president of Plan Professionals, Inc., a licensed insurance consultant located in New York City. She can be reached at 212-697-2000, or by e-mail at cara@planprofessionals.com. Her Web site is planprofessionals.com

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