A successful worksite wellness program encompasses both healthy employees and a healthy workplace. And you do want a successful program, right?
Here are 5 hallmarks of successful worksite wellness programs that are likely to deliver value to both employees and the employer and to produce the results employers like to see.
1. Programming and Interventions Are Practical and Accessible
Everyone is busy today and experiencing significant pressure on their available time. People will do however what they find meaningful and of a priority to them. Comprehensive wellness initiatives, programming and interventions need to address employee interests, pain points or their life’s current challenges. A variety of programming and interventions across the broad spectrum of wellness needs to be offered to employees and available at a time and place that works for the employee. Remember that wellness is about more than just physical health. Offer a variety of scheduled events, activities and other types of programming and interventions at times convenient for your employee population. Deliver your programming through multiple strategies such as in-person, on-line, in print, audio recordings and video. Remember that we all learn differently.
2. The Focus Is On Both the Individual and the Organization
Far too many wellness programs focus only on employee change. This approach addresses only half the issue. The workplace environment, climate and culture need to be healthy as well. The workplace environment needs to support the healthiest choice being the easiest choice. Healthy food offerings should be available in vending machines, cafeterias, snack bars and at any company events where food is offered. Both the social and physical environment need to be positive and supportive-signage, policies, practices and benefits should be in place to support individuals who want to change to a new or maintain a healthy lifestyle.
But a healthy workplace environment is only one piece of a healthy workplace. The workplace needs to also have a positive, supportive climate and culture.
Organizational climate is how the work environment is perceived directly and indirectly. Changing the environment will likely change employee perceptions related to the environment.
According to MIT organizational culture researcher Edgar Schein, PhD, workplace culture is made up of the work environment, the workplace climate and most importantly the unconscious, taken-for-granted beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings that guide and shape employee behavior. Workplace culture will always trump strategy, so it has significant power over and relationship to any change related process.
3. Wellness Is Integrated Throughout the Organization
Wellness needs to be a mindset and not just another program. Since wellness is a broad, holistic, multi-dimensional concept/construct, wellness has applicability in all the various other programming and interventions offered by the employer, including training and development, leadership development, management and supervisor training, employee benefits, work-life, EAP, safety and corporate social responsibility. Far too often, wellness and other benefit type services and programming each remain in their own respective silos. Each program’s strengths and resources need to be integrated with the other programs being offered. Services delivered to employees should be seamless and based on what the employee wants and needs. Company leadership needs to see wellness as being its own cohesive entity, seamless with workplace safety, benefits, human resources, and other infrastructure elements. Employee health, wellness and wellbeing should be embedded in everything the organization does.
4. Wellness Does Not Stand Alone
Wellness is linked to all the other existing benefit and employee support programs offered to employees. From the employee’s perspective, all the services they might need to help them address their life issues are seamlessly available to them. Wellness is truly seen as being the broad construct that it actually is. Service program strengths are regularly promoted and program resources are readily shared across programs.
5. A Comprehensive Approach Is Offered
Everyone is in a different place and seeking to address a different life issue. A comprehensive approach helps to meet employees where they are and to deliver what they need or want. This comprehensive approach offers:
• Opportunities to increase one’s awareness
• Opportunities to increase one’s knowledge and skill set
• Opportunities to experiment with adopting new lifestyle management practices
• Opportunities for employees to practice new lifestyle practices in a safe, positive and supportive work environment
The bottom line: As an employer, you need to have a clear understanding of what you want your worksite wellness program to accomplish, what your work force’s health needs are, offer programming and interventions that support what employees need and to provide the most positive, supportive workplace possible so both employees and the organization thrive.