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The Basics of a Corporate Well-Being Program

Does your workplace well-being program have what it takes to be successful? There’s certainly no set recipe, but there are a few must-have ingredients. Read on for some tips and ideas to create a thriving well-being program in your organization.

Start with the big picture.

What do you want your corporate well-being program to accomplish? It’s important to spend time upfront articulating your wellness program goals and objectives. 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?

Involve leadership.

Our research shows that when well-being is supported from the top down, people are more likely to participate and engage in programs—so make sure leaders are involved from the start. Once the program has launched, you’ll want to enlist leadership support for corporate wellness challenges, ask them to role-model healthy behaviors, and encourage them to engage with the programs and platform themselves.

Do some listening.

Ask employees what they want and expect from a well-being program. This is easy to do with a quick pulse survey or even a virtual focus group. Well-being needs vary across generations, race, gender, and sexual orientation, so be sure to include a representative sample. Once you’ve conducted your listening, share what you learned and the actions you’ll take as a result.

Get a baseline for the health of the organization.

A health assessment is the cornerstone of any well-being program. Typically launched at the outset, the health assessment helps employees learn more about their current health and gives them insight into which tools and programs would benefit them most—whether that’s health coaching, educational resources, or a more formal disease management program.

Collecting this data also allows the organization to see the overall health risks of the population and serves as a baseline for assessing program effectiveness. To get maximum participation, we recommend offering an incentive, which could be as simple as a gift card, a discount on medical premiums, or contributions to Health Savings or Flexible Spending Accounts.

Add a challenge.

Corporate-wide wellness challenges are another great way to spark interest during the initial stages of a well-being program launch. Challenges rally employees around a common goal and build morale with healthy competition. For example, our Invitational Team Steps Challenge, which allows participants to compete in small groups to tally the most steps per week, is quite popular among our clients’ participants. People in different business units and offices who may not otherwise communicate have an opportunity to connect and compete together, and give each other inspiration to keep moving each day.

Recruit some supporters.

Are there individuals in your organization who would make great advocates for the well-being program? Sign them on as wellness champions. These folks can spur enthusiasm for events, create awareness about what the well-being program offers, and serve as resources for employees. In addition, peer pressure can be a positive force for making healthy changes, so encourage champions to share their activities on workplace social media.

Layer in popular well-being program elements.

What’s included in a corporate well-being program will vary based on the organizational culture, facilities, resources, and budget, but some of the more popular offerings include:

  • Group fitness classes—virtual or in-person
  • Health coaching
  • Mental health resources
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Onsite fitness centers
  • Onsite health screenings
  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Stress management and resilience-building resources
  • Weight loss programs

Communicate more than you think you should.

Employees must know about the well-being program in order to engage with it, so craft a robust communication plan. It’s essential to make a splash at the outset of the program using multiple communication channels. Consider giveaways like water bottles, workout towels, or lanyards to create excitement. Once the program has launched, the communication can’t stop. Employees need to hear about well-being regularly to continue participating and engaging with the program. Think multi-channel communications that go beyond email—monitor ads, flyers, table tents, posters, e-cards, workplace social media, Slack channels, even home mailers.

A successful well-being program sends the message to employees that you care about them as people and are invested in their health and well-being. If done well, well-being programs can lower absenteeism, reduce health risks, and increase employee engagement, productivity, and retention. So, take the time up front to articulate goals, enlist the support of leadership and wellness champions, and offer programs employees want. You’ll be on your way to a healthier, happier organization!

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