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Corporate wellness programs pay off in more ways than one. They empower employees to make healthy lifestyle changes, promote company loyalty, and benefit your organization’s bottom line. Creating a program that is popular with employees and saves money requires careful planning and implementation across all levels of your organization.
To develop a corporate wellness program that works within your company culture, it helps to follow these steps, based on the WELCOA’s seven benchmarks of success for America’s healthiest companies:
To start a successful wellness program, the initiative should gel with your organization’s mission and core values. To get executives on board, initiate brainstorming sessions and communicate the benefits of wellness programs. Working with an experienced vendor can help to allay concerns about privacy and compliance requirements.
It's important that every aspect of program reflect the initiative and goals that are agreed upon by executive decision makers. Such efforts ensure you create a culture surrounding wellness and build it into your organization’s DNA.
Your strategy should fit within your existing corporate culture. For example, you may decide that incentives are important to the program’s adoption and success. If wellness programming requires participation in certain activities, be sure that it aligns with required shift hours and schedules.
Once you have the commitment from the C-suite, explain the reason for the initiative, focusing on the big picture. You’ll need to communicate the end goals and ideal outcomes, including who will benefit and in what ways, and address “what’s-in-it-for-me?” attitudes. You can inspire change by appealing to employees’ emotions.
To gain support from internal teams, identify “internal cheerleaders”—change agents in the mid-level ranks of employees. These people will not only support your program, but encourage others to embrace it as well. Internal cheerleaders tend to be influential within the company, enthusiastic, inspired to create positive change, and socially oriented.
At the same time, identify those likely to resist the change. Make your case by appealing to their emotions and emphasizing specific benefits.
It's important to create a communication timeline, including the mode of communication. Work backwards from your program start date with reasonable deadlines to ensure success, keeping in mind that some people may not react well to change and may need more time to fully understand it before accepting and embracing it.
Make sure your modes of communication—intranet, weekly newsletters, meetings, employee recognition programs, social media, etc.—are in sync with your corporate culture. Communicate to employees frequently during all stages of the program, maintaining transparency throughout.
Related resource: Tailoring benefits communications to work for your employees
If you want wellness to stick, you need data. Health risk assessments (HRAs), claims analysis and biometric screenings are all tools that can be turned into understandable and actionable wellness program recommendations.
A wellness vendor can help you build your program based on real-time trends in your population, not assumptions, and make changes as members move in and out of different risk levels. The objective: a game plan that gives employees the support they need to reach their wellness goals over time.
To increase your chances of success, outline detailed action steps for employees. Consider creating a document containing all the steps needed to achieve desired outcomes, such as a wellness agreement.
You’ll be more successful if you make it easy for employees to make healthy changes. For example, you can offer filtered water on site; encourage a healthy work-life balance; make time for exercise, including flexible break schedules and walking meetings; make sure stairways are well lit, so employees who wish to take stairs feel safe and comfortable; and create walking trails.
To keep employees engaged, you need to track their progress towards goals and adjust them as needed. Use communication strategies like testimonials, case studies, and aggregate data to let employees know how their participation benefits the company’s underlying goals.
It’s vital to be open to feedback from all levels, especially if your program is recurring or program or permanent. If you don’t listen to feedback, you will stop receiving it.
Careful planning and savvy communication are key to creating healthy change in your corporate culture. Remember, change is a marathon, not a sprint!
Ready to inspire change in your organization? Get started with our four corporate wellness program best practices.
The Thrive blog team is made up of health journalists, health coaches, Advisors and other experts who take what we know and turn it into helpful guide for you, our members. Have a question for one of our Health Coaches to tackle? Tweet it to us at @healthgram.
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