Workplace Wellness Programs Are Here to Stay
Employee wellness programs are no longer a nice-to-have. According to a 2015 study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 69 percent of U.S. employers now offer an employee wellness program, which is an increase over previous years. Seen as more than just an employee perk, workplace wellness programs have been proven to reduce employee-related healthcare costs. For every dollar spent on wellness programs, employers realize a $3 savings in health-related costs, according to SHRM.
The healthcare savings can be significant especially for smaller companies, but with limited resources, it can be a daunting task to take on a project of this size. As a small company, we acknowledge the difficulties but to help companies succeed at developing a long-term strategy for keeping employees healthy, we've come up with a guide for implementing a workplace wellness program that's not only effective, but cool too.
Consider Your Mission, Vision, Values, and Culture
First start by asking yourself a question, "what values are important to my executive team?" You'll want to align a wellness program to one of the values of your company. This ensures you'll be able to sell the program to your executive team as another tool for helping the company reach its goals.
Choose An Executive to Sponsor the Employee Wellness Program
This is crucial to your success! If an executive doesn’t participate, any program will fall flat on its face. Having an executive lead also lends more credibility to your program from your employees' perspective. Consider your wellness program as a brand and the executive sponsor will be the face of your brand. The executive can't just play lip service though, he/she will need to be involved in and promote the program throughout the year.
Consider Giving it a Cool Name
Choose something that represents your unique culture to promote and encourage participation. It should be something that's easy for employees to remember and fun (unless of course "fun" isn't part of your company's values).
Plan Out the Entire Year of Events and Activities
Be creative. This is your chance to think outside the box and select a range of activities to appeal to different interests. Outdoor summer fitness competitions are great for some employees but others might prefer meditation clinics or workshops on financial health. When you think about the activities to include, take into consideration that wellness doesn't just mean fitness or smoking cessation programs (although those are highly effective), but it also includes activities like mental wellness, financial health, and one-on-one health coaching services.
Ensure Executive Participation at Every Major Event
It can't be stressed enough. An executive should always be present at every major event. If employees perceive a lack of support for the program, they'll be less likely to engage in the activities and eventually interest will fizzle.
Kick off the Program as a Celebration
This is truly a celebration of an ongoing commitment to helping your employees feel healthy and happy. That's something worth celebrating. But don't stop there. Choose a specific company milestone then review it annually and continually find reasons to celebrate. Share these milestones during all-hands meetings and large events to keep the momentum going.
Tailor As You Go
Consider including a feedback loop so you can optimize the program based on your team's opinions. For every bit of feedback you get and every enhancement you implement, make sure you share it with your employees so they know that you're listening. This will also keep your program fresh and interesting for years to come.
Consider Adding Rewards or Incentives
Some companies extend monetary rewards for participation, such as an extra day off or a company-sponsored team lunch. It doesn't have to be extravagant and it doesn't even have to be tied to money. Create a system for recognizing employees who have whole-heartedly committed to living a healthy lifestyle and participating in your program. Those employees will become your ambassadors for new employees in the future. And rewarding your employees not only shows an appreciation for them but also helps solidify health and wellness as a cornerstone of your company culture.
Remember, you don't have to go it alone. Plenty of exist that specialize in the delivery of workplace wellness programs. Search your local listings for reputable companies that fit with your culture and needs.