Wellness Programs that Work

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More than 9 in 10 organizations have implemented at least one wellness initiative, and among those employers who offer and measure their wellness programs, more than half have found a decrease in absenteeism.  In fact, 63% report growth in the organization, 66% report increased productivity, and 67% report that employees are more satisfied. With more and more companies popping up with rich benefits and perks offerings, the importance of wellness programs is clear.

70% of employees are interested in taking proactive steps to improve their health. So where do you start?

First, examine your overall employee population and ensure you benefits offering matches their needs. From benefits that assist with family planning to covering alternative treatments such as acupuncture, your benefits package should be appealing to your current employees as well as to those you might be trying to recruit.

When looking to implement a wellness program, it’s important to include your entire organization in the planning. If each employee feels that they had a voice in the planning of the program, they will be more likely to participate and engage.  An employee survey is a quick and easy way to include employees in the process.

Having a successful wellness program not only helps reduce healthcare costs for an organization, but increases workplace happiness.

Here are 5 steps to help you create the foundation for a wellness program that works:

1. Provide Opportunity and Accessibility to All- Start by crowd-sourcing ideas from your organization. Send out a survey to your employees to get a better understanding of their interests (Pro-Tip: MBL can customize surveys for you for this!). Once you’ve collected your data, determine any trends. Are employees already exercising or eating healthy? Do they feel they can find affordable fitness options? From there you can devise a strategy of where to focus your wellness efforts.  Remember, all programs needs to be approachable for everyone at the company – and all of their ages and salary ranges. Ensure you find affordable options for everyone.   Company sponsored workshops around various wellness topics are a great way to provide low barrier to entry programs.

2. Start Small and Build Up- Developing wellness initiatives at the workplace can be incredibly exciting, but by starting all programs at once, you will not only overwhelm employees, but also will be left with something unsustainable, often times with the inability to track and iterate upon.

3. Gamification and Incentives- Sometimes we all need a little push. Whether incentivizing with gift cards or gamifying with content, contests and prizes, creating a little competition for employees can greatly help engagement and participation rates. Gamification adds new challenges to wellness programs that will keep interests peaked.  

4. Don’t Penalize- While incentives and gamification is a great way to boost participation, penalizing those who don’t participate creates barriers to entry and potential negativity around programs. Not only does this approach create a larger divide between those participating and those who may be sitting on the sidelines, it can also reinforce bad behaviors, creating the opposite effect of the intended goals of wellness initiatives.

5. Avoid Trendy Perks-  While larger companies offer an extensive list of trendy perks, you don’t necessarily need to provide these to satisfy your employees. While having a company-wide ski trip is exciting, at the end of the day employees want good healthcare and a company that is invested in them. Think about using funds for initiatives that will truly help your employees and their career growth.

While there are many avenues to take when laying the foundation for successful wellness initiatives at an organization, make sure your program aligns with your company’s culture and values. Take small steps to get started with a program that is approachable for all.  This will allow you to create wellness initiatives that are easy for everyone to get on board and enable you to eventually scale to larger initiatives. A successful wellness program takes time to build.

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