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How To Strategize Adding a Well-Being Program Into the Workplace

Change can be hard—even when the change is something exciting, like introducing a well-being program to your employees. That’s why it’s important to approach planning a wellness program just as you would any other large-scale organizational change—with a well-thought-out change management plan. In this week’s blog, we walk you through the change management steps to take to ensure your well-being program introduction is a success.

1. Define your well-being program goals and objectives and the “WIIFM.”

The first step with any change initiative is to think about what you want the program to accomplish. For example:

  • Do you want to improve employee engagement?
  • Are you looking to create a culture of well-being in your organization?
  • Is healthcare cost-savings a driver?
  • Do you want to boost your well-being offerings to attract new talent and improve employee retention?

The answers to these questions will shape the direction of the well-being program and the elements you choose to include. Keep in mind that the basics of a well-being program must always tie back to your organization’s core values and beliefs.

You’ll then want to be specific with your near-term goals. For example, you could aim to have a certain percentage of the population complete a health assessment in Year 1. In Years 2 and 3, you might want to set a goal for engagement with one or more programs, like health coaching or nutrition counseling. And in later years, you could add a non-physical well-being goal, like engagement with a financial wellness program.

Also, make sure to articulate a clear “why” and “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM). As with any organizational change, employees will want to know the reasons for launching the well-being program and how they’ll benefit from the changes you’re asking them to make.

2. Gather employee input.

Do research to uncover employee expectations for a corporate well-being program. This is easy to do with a quick pulse survey or even a virtual focus group. Because well-being needs vary across generations, race, gender, and sexual orientation, be sure to include a representative sample. Also have a good cross-section of job levels—from entry-level employees to middle management to senior leadership.

Ask open-ended questions about what well-being means to people, and probe on specific offerings like support for mental health, help with nutrition and exercise, or stress management and resiliency training.

Finally, make sure your launch communications incorporate what you learned and how it ultimately shaped the program’s structure. By offering the opportunity to provide input, you’ll not only help prepare employees for the change, but you’ll also increase their investment in the well-being program and create intrinsic motivation to participate once it’s launched.

3. Craft a well-being program that’s holistic and comprehensive.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to well-being, so make sure the program offers a little something for everyone. To do this well, you’ll need to segment your population to create meaningful offerings. Take the airline industry, for example. Well-being solutions might vary depending on job role—corporate office, ground crew, flight crew—or even the airport where the employee is based.

We also know that “healthy” means different things to different people—especially those of diverse ethnic, racial, and geographic backgrounds—so also take that into consideration as you implement a wellness program in the workplace. Lastly, in our new, distributed world where some work remotely and some are still in physical workplaces, well-being programs need to feature equitable in-person and virtual solutions.

4. Identify an executive sponsor.

Executive sponsorship is a key principle of change management. Our own research shows that when well-being is supported from the top down, people are more likely to participate and engage in the program. So, make sure to identify a senior leader who can champion the effort, is willing to role-model healthy behaviors, and will actively engage with the platform themselves. This individual will also be called upon to help with communication at launch and on an ongoing basis, so ensure they’re comfortable speaking about it in forums like town halls, videos, and during wellness challenges.

5. Develop a strategic communication plan.

Even the best well-being program will fall flat if it isn’t supported by a good communication plan. Before launch, employees need a solid introduction to how workplace wellness programs work and how to engage with the various offerings. This is best done using a variety of communication vehicles like webinars, email, workplace social media posts, and eye-catching digital and in-person promotions.

Once the program has launched, the communication can’t stop. Employees need to hear about well-being regularly to continue to engage with the program. Think multi-channel communications like monitor ads, flyers, table tents, posters, e-cards, Slack channels, and even home mailers to continue to promote wellness in the workplace.

6. Generate excitement for the well-being program launch.

The beginning of a well-being program should be exciting, so support it with fun giveaways like water bottles, workout towels, or lanyards. Tying the launch to a corporate-wide wellness challenge can also create a buzz. Challenges, like our Invitational Team Steps Challenge, generate enthusiasm and drive participation with a little bit of healthy competition. But you don’t need to start with a steps challenge—check out this list for other great ideas to get people energized and excited about making healthy changes through the well-being program.

After the initial launch, you can decide which well-being program elements you want to implement next, being mindful not to launch everything at once. Remember, it takes time for employees to embrace any kind of change. Releasing well-being program offerings over a period of time is the best way to help employees with change, sustain excitement and participation, and create a culture of well-being that delivers real results for the long term. If you’d like some help strategizing how to launch a well-being program in your organization, visit our website or contact us at connect@webmd.net.

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