At this time of year, employees all across the globe are focused on improving their own health and wellness. This makes it a perfect time to start thinking about implementing a wellness program in the workplace. Implementing a wellness program while New Year’s resolutions are still on the brain can improve the rate of participation and make employees feel like the company’s goals are in line with their own. This is a good thing for both employees and the company. After all, employees that are healthy are less likely to miss work due to illness and are more likely to be productive!

Why Start a Wellness Program?

A wellness program can improve not only employee health, but also employee contentment and loyalty. Employees that feel their workplace genuinely cares about their health and well being are more likely to feel valued. While it is not guaranteed, wellness programs may also help employees with stress management, which is one of the main factors cited as a boon on productivity. Beginning a wellness program can also be highly beneficial for a workplace, reducing turnover, improving revenues as a result of increased productivity, and minimizing the amount of sick time used.

How to Begin a Wellness Program

To successfully begin a wellness program, it’s important to first get all top level managers on the same page. If the program is not supported at the top, it is much less likely to be accepted throughout the rest of the company. After all managers are on board, a team should be assembled to assess the best ways to improve wellness and to begin laying out how the program will work.

Best practices for improving employee wellness may vary greatly from company to company, but may include:

  • Making smoking cessation programs available
  • Promoting increased physical activity
  • Providing information about healthier eating
  • Monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol, and other health indicators
  • Making health coaching available
  • Helping with condition management

Pitfalls to Avoid

The approach to wellness program implementation is very important. If employees feel forced into anything, they are much less likely to want to participate. Many companies make the mistake of making health screenings mandatory or penalizing employees for not participating. These actions are more likely to result in employee resentment and turnover than improved employee wellness.

Tips for Success

  • Participation in wellness programs should be optional for employees. This makes the program feel like a perk rather than just another obligation
  • Incentives should be offered that make participating in the wellness program enticing. These incentives may include time off, discounts to health clubs, or gifts
  • Communication with employees about the program should be clear, specific, and simple to understand
  • Once the program has been in place for a short period of time, the results should be evaluated. The rate of employee participation in the program, the productivity of participating employees versus non-participating employees, and worker satisfaction with the program should be used to determine success. After a long period of time, employee retention, overall company productivity, and return on investment may also be used to evaluate program success
  • After evaluating program success, modifications should be made to improve the wellness program