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Wellness isn’t just plug-and-play

Whether you’ve recently implemented a wellness program in your workplace, or had one running for years, success requires both strategy and coordinated efforts to empower employees to take control of their own well-being.

The truth is, you can’t just “plug and play” wellness. Here are some tips to help you make your wellness program more successful in the long term.

1. Examine whether your work culture supports wellness.

In The Wellness Effect, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) finds that US employers have been broadly successful at establishing a workplace culture of wellness: about seven in ten employees (69%) agree that health and wellness are an important part of their organization’s culture.

How can you make sure your organization’s culture supports wellness? Examine work policies and worksites to ensure they’re aligned with wellness goals. Appoint leaders and employees who can champion health and well-being to others. Other ways to support a healthier culture include: workplace communications, rewards and recognition, and convenient tools and resources that make it easier for employees to get engaged in wellness.

2. Convert the nonbelievers.

The HealthMine Consumer Wellness report reveals that only 44 percent of employees stay engaged in a wellness program through an entire year.1

Help reverse this trend by learning what your employees want from their wellness program through surveys, focus groups, and worksite evaluations. Use company communications to promote how wellness programs can help them with their goals. If employees want to lower their stress, tell them about the on-site meditation classes you’re offering or the stress management lunch ‘n learn coming up in a few weeks.

3. Measure the effectiveness of your program.

Measuring Wellness, a study from the EIU, finds that only half of employers say they collect health-related data as part of their wellness program, and those who do report trouble with accessing data and drawing conclusions about data.

Capturing information from different types of cost drivers can help illuminate how wellness is impacting the organization. This can include changes in healthcare claims costs, program utilization trends, number of sick days vs. scheduled leave, employee retention rates, and feedback from employees.

4. Offer employees personalized pathways to wellness.

Not all workers are the same when it comes to age, fitness level, medical and cultural background, financial condition, family situation, etc.

Wellness activities and challenges should accommodate a wide range of personal ability and life circumstances. Also, offer programs with a one-on-one approach (like health coaching) that would allow employees to set – and reach – their own well-being goals.

5. “Wellness 3.0” is about more than exercise and diet.

As focus shifts from employee wellness to well-being, companies are offering non-traditional benefits that are boosting both job satisfaction and company performance.

Beyond helping workers maintain a work-life balance and manage stress, offerings such as paid time-off, leadership training and opportunities for community volunteer projects can improve not only well-being but also engagement

Launching wellness at work may sound like a daunting challenge, but understanding these basic truths about wellness programs will get you started on the right path to helping your employees and strengthening your organization.

1 “Consumer Wellness Report”; HealthMine; Summer/Fall 2015. http://www.healthmine.com/consumer-wellness-report-form

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