Updated: Aug 14, 2020
COVID-19 has changed everything about how we work, including the kind of support employees need. Remote care for mental health has spiked, telemedicine services are more popular than ever, and exercise programs have moved online. So much about how we live and work has changed, including employee benefits like corporate wellness programs.
Corporate employee wellness programs can range from healthy snacks and yearly flu shots to robust onsite fitness facilities and comprehensive support programs such as gym reimbursements, health coaching, nutrition support, and disease management tools for chronic conditions. They improve engagement and reduce healthcare costs by making it easier for employees to access the care they need to stay healthy. In fact, studies have shown that wellness programs improve morale, increase productivity, and help cut down on sick days and absenteeism. All of this can mean substantial savings for your business. Depending on your program, you could expect an average ROI of $5.81 for every $1 spent on employee wellness, according to results from 56 studies on the subject.
When you’re designing your wellness program, keeping these eight strategies in mind will help:
1. Set goals
There are a number of effective strategies for implementing an employee wellness program, not the least of which is setting effective goals. Don’t just pick a cookie cutter goal; tailor it to be specific to your company and decide on a realistic timeline to get there.
2. Choose your mission
Beyond specific goals, having an overarching mission statement can help inspire everyone to action. For example, Rowan and Harishanker noted that when Safeway put its various discrete wellness programs under the umbrella of “prevention,” participation rates rose over 80%.
3. Celebrate and appreciate
When your program goes well, do something to show your employees your appreciation for their investment in their health. Doing so can play a big role in encouraging the ongoing success of employee wellness programs.
4. Incentives and rewards
This also falls under appreciation, but incentives and rewards can be helpful tools for encouraging employee participation in wellness programs. For example, buy your team a wellness tracker like a Fitbit to help track their daily movement or launch wellness challenges and award the winner a prize at the end of it. It creates excitement and participation around the initiative, inspires healthy competition and assists in creating true and lasting habit change.
5. Make your culture wellness-positive
Creating a culture of wellness in the workplace can do a lot of the work for you. Making healthy programs convenient, providing a variety of options and actively encouraging employees who participate in programs will help encourage other employees to take part as well. A good example of this would be app-based challenges tied to staff smartphones to remind them of their daily activities for completion. The app will monitor progress and help award a winner at the end.
6. Get personal
Staying healthy might seem like common sense but having a more concrete goal that relates directly to one’s personal life can be a lot more motivating. Encourage employees to seek out their own health and wellness goals as well, rather than just deciding on mandated company-wide objectives. You can also consider subsidizing group coaching for 4-5 people or personalized 1:1 coaching designed to focus on breaking old and negative patterns and replacing them with new habits and healthy alternatives by creating deep and lasting transformation at the behaviour, belief and identity levels.
7. Get input
Your wellness program should be the right fit for your workplace, and it simply makes sense to get employees involved in the planning process. Two heads (or many) are better than one when it comes to brainstorming for wellness programs. Better yet, create a survey and ask your employees where they struggle the most so you can structure the program, content and challenges to those needs to create high engagement levels.
8. Communicate clearly
This one I can’t stress enough: have a clear communication plan. Send the information out via email, put it on your bulletin boards, include information in your next companywide meeting, on your intranet or a Slack channel, or send out a kickoff gift to generate excitement and engagement, like that Fitbit I mentioned earlier. Making sure employees know about the program—and that they understand how it works correctly—is a key first step toward building a successful wellness program.
If you are considering implementing a corporate wellness program these are some key factors to consider in order to ensure success. At the end of the day, the aim with a corporate wellness program is to keep employees healthy in body, mind and spirit, but without a specific goal and effective communication, you’re unlikely to get there.
Need help? I work with organizations all across North America to design and implement corporate wellness programs specific to their unique goals and objectives. Contact me today to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org.