Laying Groundwork: How to Start a Wellness Program
Once a company decides to start a workplace wellness program, the first question is often: “What should we do?” Before you have that discussion, you need to lay the groundwork. The following is a summary of items you can do to get started.
1. Gain Support from Management
Support from all levels of management is key to the success of your wellness program. Inform managers about the program early on and encourage them to participate. Communicate the program’s goals and benefits clearly and often. Gaining management support will ensure you have sufficient resources and staff time to develop and implement your wellness program.
2. Assemble a Committee
Your wellness committee will be responsible for promoting the worksite wellness program, planning activities, recruiting team leaders and conducting evaluations. The size of the group will depend on the size of your company and the scope of the program or activities. It should be large enough to represent your workforce and include staff that represents various employee shifts and departments.
3. Designate a Coordinator
A wellness coordinator should be identified to manage the program. Although the committee and others can share some of the responsibilities, having the right person coordinating efforts increases the likelihood that the program will be well-managed and well-delivered.
4. Analyze Your Needs
Complete a worksite environmental assessment and conduct an employee interest survey to collect information on the topics that would be of most interest. This type of prior planning and analyzing can help you get the most for your investment. Set program priorities and plan activities and initiatives based on the results of these assessments.
5. Develop an Action Plan
This should include specific goals and objectives, strategies to meet these goals, a timeline, budget and evaluation plan. If your goals are clearly identified and an action plan is developed, it’ll be easier to evaluate the effectiveness of your wellness program.
6. Invest Accordingly
Monetary costs can fluctuate widely, depending on whether the employer pays all costs, the employees pay all costs or the costs are shared. The Wellness Council of America estimates the cost per employee to be between $100 and $150 per year for an effective wellness program that produces a return on investment of $300 to $450. Keep in mind that the return on investment will likely be greater with more comprehensive programs, so the higher cost will also generate a greater return on investment due to lower health care costs and less absenteeism.
7. Implement and Communicate the Plan
You need an effective communication strategy to help put your plan into motion and encourage participation. Be sure to include plenty of education, so employees – especially those on a jobsite – understand why you’re implementing a wellness program and the benefits they can gain from participating.
8. Evaluate Outcomes
Periodically review your program goals and compare with it with the measurable outcomes or results. Keep employees involved in the evaluation process to make sure they feel the program is benefiting them. Adjust programs and initiatives accordingly, based on employee feedback and evaluation results.
After you’ve laid the groundwork to develop a wellness program, take the time to plan the components that will result in a quality program. Following these steps and not rushing the planning process will ultimately make your program more successful.
Source: Wisconsin Worksite Wellness Resource Kit
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