What's the best way to implement a wellness program at work?
Company wellness programs are so much on the rise, they’re practically expected as a company benefit. From 2016 to 2017, almost a quarter of companies increased their wellness benefits. As these programs become more and more common, so has criticism of their effectiveness in truly reducing corporate health care costs and keeping employees healthy.
The takeaway from these criticisms shouldn’t be that wellness programs aren’t worth it, but rather, creating an effective wellness program takes thought, and when done right, can translate to a healthier and happier workforce.
The best wellness programs have four components:
1. Customization: They can be personalized to each employee.
Wellness programs are becoming more and more individualized, as the wellness benefits that allow workers to tailor the program to their own needs encourage higher participation rates. Instead of having a company-wide fitness goal, consider allowing employees to set their own goals, based on what they will most benefit from.
2. Communication: Employees are kept aware and updated of their benefits.
A lack of clear information on the company’s wellness program can help explain low participation rates. In one study, 70% of employees who did not participate in their work’s wellness program said they didn’t because they weren’t even aware of what was offered. Using a variety of messaging channels ensures reaching the most employees possible. Communicate this information frequently enough so that employees are kept updated, but not so often that they become overwhelmed or bored.
A monthly company-wide newsletter can remind employees of their benefits, and update them if is anything new. It is also important for this communication to be as much a conversation as possible, so ask employees for feedback. Make it easy for people to voice their opinions through setting up a form on the monthly newsletter.
3. Culture: Wellness is ingrained in the workplace culture.
Wellness should be a company value. It should be clear why the company promotes wellness as a way of life, not just a box to check off. Fun perks and enticing programs will not be successful if the company culture doesn’t reinforce the importance of prioritizing health. On the executive level, resources should be allocated for wellness benefits, and model this culture of health by practicing healthy behaviors themselves.
Another way to build a culture of wellness is to look at the physical environment the company uses. People will follow the path of least resistance, so make it easy for employees to choose healthy options. What snacks are kept in the vending machine?
4. Comprehensiveness: They focus on all aspects of health, not just fitness.
Health isn’t all physical. While physical health can help improve one’s mental health, it’s important to make mental health a key priority in your program. Forbes identifies a growing emphasis on mental health as a worksite wellness trend in 2018. If your company doesn’t already, consider adding mental health days and therapy services under health care coverage.
If your workplace wellness program isn’t improving the lives of the people who work there, break down your program by identifying where these four components can be built. And for the most effectiveness for your employees, talk to us at ActiveSoul to learn more about our wellness app and the flexibility it provides your staff.