According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individual Employee health can have a significant impact on the productivity and well being of an entire organization. Organizations who invest in not only the onsite safety of their employees, but also their overall health and Wellness by implementing workplace wellness programs, enjoy significant benefits, including reduced employee absenteeism, increased levels of employee productivity and reduced health care costs.
Although much of the discussion about workplace wellness programs seems to be dominated by the latest outrageous-sounding initiatives from companies like Google, the idea of workplace wellness has been gaining popularity with employers of all sizes. In a study published by the National Small Business Association, 93 percent of business owners and decision makers say the health of their employees is important to their business’ bottom line. However, more than 60 percent reported that their business has never had or tried to implement a workplace wellness program.
The two biggest reasons employers say they haven’t yet implemented a workplace wellness program are a lack of interest among employees and an uncertainty of how to implement and administer a wellness program. G&A Partners’ wellness specialist, Olivia Curtis, who manages G&A’s own award-winning corporate wellness program, outlines five tips for employers looking to implement a workplace employee wellness program:
- Identify what you want your wellness program to achieve.
“You need to consider what your main goals are for the program. Are you trying to improve employee morale and unity? Are you trying to decrease your high rates of diabetes and high cholesterol that are costing your company money? By defining the objectives of the program early on, employers can ensure that any wellness initiatives and events directly relate to those goals. Here at G&A Partners, for example, we began the process of implementing a wellness program by identifying the main objectives we wanted the program to achieve, and then asking our employees what they wanted out of a wellness program.”
- Form the right team with the right people.
“A wellness team provides the muscle to get things done, the ideas to keep things fresh and the influence to keep your program strong. This team should be made up of people from different departments, different levels of health and different interests. Having a diverse team increases the chances that your program will have something for everyone., This team support will also aid in the longevity of your program by sharing the workload so one person isn’t getting overwhelmed and burnt out.”
- Develop a plan.
“Before you create your plan, you need to collect data. Don’t waste time trying to guess what will work…ask your employees! A simple survey will get you all the information you need. Ask them about their current health behaviors (physical activity, nutrition, sleep, stress…etc.) and what they’re interested in. Use the responses you receive to choose appropriate interventions.” Curtis notes that employers shouldn’t let a lack of funds prevent them from implementing wellness initiatives. “I’ve seen companies put in workout equipment, reimburse employees for gym memberships, organize company sports teams, hold monthly wellness seminars, provide healthy snack options in the break room, run simple walking challenges, and bring in a health coach to answer employees’ questions and help develop action plans – no matter what your budget constraints or limitations, there are plenty of ways to create a corporate culture of wellness and meet your employees’ wants and needs.”
When developing a plan, Curtis also recommends that employers consider adding some incentives to reward employees and increase participation rates.
“The sad truth is that sometimes ‘becoming healthier’ is not enough of a motivator for employees. If your participation levels are lacking, think about offering gift cards, cash, extra PTO hours, contributions to their HSAs, lower insurance premium rates, merchandise, or some sort of formal recognition in the form of a certificate or written letter from the CEO. Again, I would suggest asking your employees what would best motivate them to participate in the program, instead of just guessing.”
- Let your employees know what’s happening.
“Communicate, communicate, communicate! If your employees are unaware of what you’re offering, they won’t take advantage of it and your program will ultimately fail. Spread the word through email, word of mouth (announcing it in meetings) and posters in the break room. Before you announce it, however, make sure it is all planned out and ready to go. You essentially only get one chance to launch your wellness program and you don’t want to waste that.” Curtis also recommends that any initial communications regarding your wellness company come from someone in a position of authority within your organization, such as the CEO or other executive. This will give the message some extra weight within your organization. Once the program has been successfully rolled out, the communication can be taken over by someone else within the organization, such as the HR manager or another administrator.
- Evaluate Your Outcomes
“If you’re not constantly measuring and evaluating your program you won’t be able to prove or improve what you’ve done. As you religiously measure your program’s progress, you will not only be able to improve from year to year, but also demonstrate the value of your wellness program.” Curtis recommends using the following sample evaluation timeline:“For the first few years I recommend simply focusing on participation and satisfaction. This can be done by tracking how many employees participate in each component of the program and then asking them (perhaps through surveys) what they liked, what they didn’t like…etc. After your program has been in place for 2-3 years, you can then start looking at changes in biometrics, health behavior and culture, as well as increases in productivity and job satisfaction. This can be done through biometric screenings, HRAs, satisfaction and self-reported behavior change surveys, and culture audits. After about 3-4 years, you can begin to measure changes in your medical claims through various forms of claims analysis.”
Curtis offers this final piece of advice for employers looking to start their own wellness programs:
“Rolling out a wellness program and truly creating a culture of wellness within an organization is not easy, but if you stick with it you’ll find that not only are your employees healthier, but they’re also happier, more engaged and more productive workers, which is what every employer wants.”
Olivia Curtis received her bachelor’s degree in exercise and wellness from Brigham Young University. Olivia is an NASM-certified personal trainer and fitness nutritionist, an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor, an ALA-certified Freedom From Smoking facilitator, and has also a number of Well Workplace certifications from the Wellness Council of America. In addition to managing G&A Partners’ award-winning corporate wellness program, she also provides wellness services and administers wellness programs for G&A’s clients.
About G&A Partners
G&A Partners, one of the nation’s leading professional employer organizations (PEOs), provides its clients with the tools and resources they need to take better care of their employees with a tailored and competitive employee benefits package as well as turn-key employee wellness programs that add value to existing benefits packages and help employers control health care costs. Want to learn more about how G&A Partners helps businesses grow by providing, managing and administering employee benefits? Click here to schedule a free business consultation with one of our HR experts!
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