The need for wellness programs is becoming more important than ever for today’s employers. With continued health care costs on the rise, companies—both big and small—often face the difficult decision to cut valuable programs or pass along the cost to their employees. According to the Wellness Councils of America, businesses save about $3 in health care expenses for every $1 spent on wellness programs. A wellness program becomes a great solution in controlling costs and maintaining happy, healthy employees.
Starting a wellness program can seem a little overwhelming at first, but a few key elements can make the process a little easier.
Get senior management support: In order to ensure success, senior management’s support is crucial. This ensures that the program will become part of the organization’s culture.
Create a wellness committee: Employees will take part in the program if they have representation and have an interest in the program’s activities.
Assess the needs of your group: Conduct surveys and health risk assessments. Surveys can help employers understand what their employees are looking for in a wellness program and what activities they would actually participate in. Health risk assessments allow organizations to tailor their program to specific disease management that applies to their group. Hiring a third party to gather individual health information is recommended in order to avoid any potential HIPAA and GINA issues.
Create a wellness program plan (vision, mission, action, incentives, and rewards): Like any other corporate program, it’s important to have a vision, mission and action plans in order to ensure and evaluate success. Incentives and rewards can motivate employees to maintain their goals and participate in the program. Make sure incentives are accessible to all employees.
Communicate the program to employees: It’s important to communicate all activities to employees on a frequent basis.
Evaluate and modify program periodically: Evaluate the success of the plan by surveying the employees. Find out which activities were received positively and which ones weren’t. Make adjustments and ask for feedback—it’s the best way to know what employees ultimately want in the program.
Once your wellness program is set in place, make use of local resources. This is a great way to get some ideas for program activities that cater to local employees. INOVA and Health Fair DC are two sites that offer organizations some great resources. INOVA offers assistance in constructing a corporate wellness program, as well as nutrition seminars and health fairs to share with employees. Health Fair DC offers employers a complete list of local health organizations that offer free health information and activities.