How Healthy is your Employee Wellness Program?
You may have noticed a recent focus on improving wellness initiatives in the office. From healthier food choices to company-hosted fitness classes, organizations increasingly offer their employees more opportunities to build a healthy lifestyle.
Originally a response to rising health care costs, wellness programs have proven to have many additional benefits. Along with being financially beneficial, they also help attract and retain employees, reduce the number of sick days employees use, lead to improved job satisfaction, and positively impact business performance.
Your first step to implementing a wellness program is deciding on an approach. Some companies take the “whole person” approach, offering coaching, financial counseling, onsite gyms, healthy snacks, relaxation rooms, and more. Other organizations work with their city to improve outdoor areas for walking or bike paths and offer trail information. I’ve even seen grassroots efforts like employee-supported “Salad Bar Day” where everyone pitches in to provide a healthy lunch option for the office.
We all know putting such programs together takes time and money, both things your HR department might not have in abundance. Luckily, there are some fantastic tools out there to help get you started. From applying for government grants and using free online tools to partnering with brokers, medical groups, or non-profits like Community Health Charites, there are a number of ways to get creative and get the ball rolling.
The next step to a healthier workforce is deciding how to measure your program’s success and your employees’ progress. The best way to do that is to develop a three-pronged approach to wellness.
One of the most effective ways to measure progress is to arrange for annual biometric testing. There are a variety of organizations that can come to your company and provide biometrics for employees. The tangible proof of progress these numbers provide is a great way to educate and motivate your employees.
Education is one of the most important ways to arm your workforce with the knowledge they need to be healthy and successful. Options can be as simple as bringing in a yoga instructor to teach a class over lunch or hosting “lunch and learn” sessions on finance, health, and exercise.
Often, employees can benefit for intervention on more chronic conditions. For example, we all know it’s beneficial to quit smoking, but it’s much easier to succeed with adequate support at work and at home. These types of topics can be handled over the phone with wellness coaching or multi-week programs, to help employees get on track and reduce chronic conditions.
Wellness is so much more than reducing costs. How would you feel if your employer took a vested interest in your personal health and well-being? There are plenty of resources to help your organization build an effective wellness program, so get out there and make your office as healthy as can be!
What wellness initiatives have you tried so far? Let me know how they worked for your office in the comments below!
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