Wellness programs in the workplace: How to get started

Matt BauerBusiness Insurance, Employee Benefits, Workers Compensation

I’m passionate about helping businesses keep their employees healthy, happy, and on the job, contributing to their organization’s success.

As I’ve written about previously, wellness programs provide measurable ROI that keeps business owners happy. Nearly all owners who started a wellness program in the workplace agree that these programs are effective in mitigating the risk of rising health care costs and worker’s compensation claims.

Wellness programs include a range of services that certainly help the individuals who participate. Examples include biometric screenings, tobacco cessation support, and education about healthy eating habits. The individual benefit is without question, but these programs also create a healthier, less illness- and injury-prone workforce. With a healthy team in place, healthy (read, low) rates of worker’s compensation claims are sure to follow.

Now that you’ve seen the wellness light, how do you get a wellness program started in your workplace?

Successful implementation requires buy-in through leadership and education. This is a top-down initiative. You and your senior management team must embrace the program and make it practical and rewarding for employees to participate. Consider these tools and best practices:

Kick it off with gusto — Once you’ve got your program plans in place, announce it with a big, in-person splash, not a carefully worded e-mailed memo. Call an all-hands meeting and show excitement and enthusiasm about the new initiative. Explain how participation will benefit each individual in the room. Point toward the fun and rewarding ideas you’ve cooked up as part of the program.  Managers should follow up with regular team meetings devoted to the wellness program.

Aim high — There’s a competitive streak in all of us…even if we’re just trying to beat our own record! Set overall organizational wellness goals and tiers of goals for individuals and teams. Keep it fun and lively. 

Make it count — When employees and teams reach their goals, it’s time to award and reward! Companywide recognition and tangible signs of achievement are huge motivators.

Make it fun — Sure, healthy habits are mostly individual pursuits, but organized team events with wellness themes let staff provide each other with support and encouragement. Remember the overall big picture and take time out of your workplace’s busy calendar for these events. Again, keep it fun and lively.

A wellness program requires a significant commitment of time and resources, but it’s oh so worth it.

Matt Bauer