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While the goals of most company programs can differ greatly, they tend to share one common goal: to make work life better. Whether it’s a safety, orientation, or product training program, all involve an initiative to improve the health of that area of the business.

Ironically, an area that’s often overlooked by company leaders and HR teams lies at the heart of what’s keeping the gears turning every day—their employees. Similar to the way a sales team cares for a new lead, every employee needs to be nurtured and have their pain points addressed before you can expect them to show up day after day and be fully committed to your organization.

“You need to think about the totality of your employee’s experience. Employees make your business run, and it’s important to understand the value they bring. If your employees are frayed at the ends and aren’t getting what they need in terms of wellness, how can they tend to your customers?” - Bernard Coleman, Head of Employee Experience, Gusto

Benefits Of A Workplace Wellness Program

How can companies ensure that they’re enabling their employees to prioritize their wellness and thus produce better work?

If you’re looking to help your employees thrive and help your company overcome key business challenges, a workplace wellness program is a reliable solution. Not only is aiming to create healthier and happier employees a good decision on a human-level, it’s a smart business move as well.

Having a hard time buying in? The proof is in the research.

The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) performed a systematic review of programs that featured health risk assessments with feedback and health education. They found that for every dollar invested in health intervention, employees recouped between $1.40 and $4.60 in avoided medical costs and productivity losses.

More specifically related to productivity, a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that when employees leveraged wellness programs to make lifestyle changes, they each ended up saving their companies about $353 in recouped productivity, which they gained as a result of their newfound wellness.

Wellness programs can also bring employees together and create a more positive environment—whether your company is colocated, distributed, or a mix of both. A Virgin Pulse study found that 85% of employers believed their successful wellness program had a positive influence on company culture.

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But how do you get the rest of your company on board? How can you make sure your wellness program is effective and sustainable? Follow these 5 steps to develop a workplace wellness program for your organization.

  1. Conduct Wellness Assessments
  2. Get Leadership Involvement
  3. Establish A Wellness Committee
  4. Develop Employee Wellness Goals And Objectives
  5. Determine If You Need A Platform (Hint: You Probably Do)

Before you can start addressing the health and wellness needs of your employees, you first need to understand what they are. Obtain information about their mental, physical, social, and financial wellbeing in order to assess everyone’s needs, forecast how a program might be received, and what information employees are willing to share. You can do this by sending out an anonymous company-wide survey.

Then, design a second company-wide survey to determine which types of classes or sessions to offer within a potential wellness program based on 1) what your employees are most interested in and 2) what the results from the health assessment show (meditation, fitness, financial coaching, stress management, etc).

Next, obtain buy-in from executives and managers using data and results from the assessments listed in Step 1.

⭐️ Why is executive buy-in important? For funding purposes, spreading support throughout your organization, and policy approval.

⭐️ Why is managerial buy-in important? To link wellness objectives to business outcomes, thereby positioning the wellness program as a fundamental part of the organization’s success and growth.

To get company leaders on board, communicate research findings on wellness programs and the benefits that can be expected from the wellness initiative. Tie these benefits back to the company’s mission, vision, and values to bring the need for a wellness program full-circle.

Additionally, vouch for a wellness program to leadership by referencing the proven benefits of wellness programs in other companies. Here are just a few statistics to share:

Save Money

Johnson & Johnson leaders estimate that their wellness program has cumulatively saved the company $250 million on health care costs over a decade: that’s a return cost of $2.71 for every dollar spent.

Help Employees Become Healthier

In a study conducted by doctors Richard Milani and Carl Lavie, 57% of people with high health-risks reached a low-risk status by completing a worksite cardiac rehabilitation and exercise program.

Reduce The Number Of Sick Days Taken

Over six years of a wellness program being implemented at MD Anderson Cancer Center, missed workdays declined by 80%.

Help Employees Become More Productive

A variety of studies confirm the health conditions that contribute most to lost productivity are depression, anxiety, migraines, respiratory illnesses, arthritis, diabetes, and back pain. These are often the main areas that wellness programs target to improve through mental health and physical health training and classes.

Once leadership is on board, create an internal, employee-driven committee that helps build and sustain a wellness culture in your organization.

The responsibilities of the wellness committee should include the following:

✔️ Evaluating the current programs, services, and policies

✔️ Assessing employee needs and preferences

✔️ Developing a wellness program plan, including a vision statement, goals, and objectives. (See Step 4)

✔️ Assisting in implementing, monitoring, and evaluating wellness activities

When building the committee, don’t forget to ensure there is representation across various departments and areas of the company. This includes members from top management, HR, information technology, marketing, health and safety departments, as well as any other employees that are interested in health and wellness.

“Several companies use Wellness Coach, but the ones that get most out of it are where the push for overall wellness comes not just from HR, but the leadership and wellness committees of the employees themselves. The sense of employee ownership of everyone’s wellness is a game-changer.”
-D Sharma, Co-Founder and CEO of Wellness Coach

To develop data-driven goals, use the information gathered from the assessments conducted in Step 1 to determine the main objectives for your wellness program.

Common goals include:

  • Improve overall employee wellness and reduce healthcare costs
  • Measure employee wellness with quarterly or yearly health assessments
  • Establish a realistic goal for reducing healthcare costs
  • Reduce absenteeism by X percent next year
  • Increase productivity by X percent next year

Share these goals with management and document them for ongoing analysis. Keep in mind that as your wellness program grows and the needs of your employees change, the goals for your wellness program may change as well. Work these goals into each employee’s quarterly and annual goal-setting sessions to help encourage participation.

Does your wellness committee have experience designing wellness programs for companies in the past? If not, you may want to choose and use a robust platform that can manage program deployment, monitoring, and reporting.

When researching options for a wellness program platform, keep in mind your employee and company needs, goals, and objectives. If your organization has multi-pronged needs, such as stress-management or healthy-eating habits, you’ll need a platform that can offer support for both.

Within a platform, HR leaders should also look for offerings like on-demand classes, private coaching, customization options, and tool integrations (like Slack and Zoom).

The benefits of choosing a platform vs. doing it internally include:

  • Less bandwidth is needed internally to run the wellness program
  • The program is run by expert health & wellness coaches, instructors, and doctors
  • Ongoing implementation, monitoring, and reporting aspects are taken care of by a third party

If you choose to partner with a platform, the wellness committee should be the point of contact for the platform and will be responsible for maintaining the relationship and communicating ongoing needs and goals.

“One of the ways we’ve been able to make a digital shift with our wellness program has been through Wellness Coach. We promote the different programs through social media, and employees located around the world can improve their wellness through meditation and yoga offered by our company. It’s really made a difference in our culture and in our employees’ lives.” -Michelle Gardner, Senior Manager, Global Benefits, ANSYS

With a platform like Wellness Coach, you can help your employees reach their wellness goals, bolster workplace satisfaction, all while saving your organization money on healthcare-related costs and increasing company productivity.

Features of the Wellness Coach platform include:

  • Live and on-demand classes from expert wellness coaches and instructors
  • Daily guided meditations
  • Custom wellness challenges
  • Private Company-wide coaching and courses
  • Employee Wellness Index and usage report
  • Desktop and mobile access to the platform
  • Integrations with Zoom and Slack

Continue The Process — Learn Steps For Developing And Maintaining Your Wellness Program

After a successful implementation, you’ll need the proper resources to launch the program and continue tweaking it for future success.

Uncover the remaining five steps for a successful program launch in our free downloadable guide:

✔️ Communicating the program plan

✔️ Setting up a wellness challenge

✔️ Scheduling regular wellness sessions

✔️ Reviewing analytics and reports

✔️ Making changes for the future

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