Associations Now | Emily Bratcher | How to Boost the Success of Your Workplace Wellness Program
Wellness programs at the office are becoming increasingly popular, but not all of them are as successful as they could be. Here are three simple things you can do to improve involvement in your association’s wellness program.
The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plan’s new study—A Closer Look: Workplace Wellness Trends—takes a deeper dive into data from one of its previously published studies, with an aim to “determine practices that lead to potential wellness success.”
To do so, IFEBP analyzed responses from 431 U.S. corporations and government entities, and what the foundation uncovered is that nine out of 10 of the respondents offer some type of wellness initiative.
But the wellness initiatives they offer vary, ranging from fitness challenges and employee assistance programs, to healthy food and drink choices in the kitchen and opportunities for employees to do charity work.
Employers’ goals for even instituting wellness initiatives differ widely too. “There are a lot of different reasons why employers have wellness programs,” said Julie Stich, associate vice president of content at IFEBP. “You want your employees to be healthier, not only to keep healthcare costs down, but you want to increase their morale, increase their productivity and efficiency while they’re in the office, [and] you want to cut back on absenteeism …”
No matter the program or the goals associated with it, here are a few ingredients IFEBP has found are essential in creating a successful wellness program:
“What we’ve seen repeated over and over in our analysis of our data was the involvement of leadership,” Stich said. And it’s important that the leaders of the organization support it publicly and communicate about it with their employees, encouraging staff, for example, to go get their flu shot during work hours or get up from their desks and take a walk. But leadership participation in the initiative is also important. “When you’ve got a fitness challenge going on, you actually [want to] see the CEO taking their walk around the building as well,” Stich said.
Employers might first ask their employees what they’d like to see in a wellness program, whether a flu shot or a lunch-and-learn session on stress management, and then use that feedback in crafting the organization’s wellness program. But, after an organization has launched an initiative, “it’s important to always be reminding employees about your wellness program and its activities,” Stich said.
Offering incentives is a great way to motivate employee involvement in an organization’s wellness initiative. One way to do this is to put the names of staff who are participating in the program into a raffle and then hold a gift card drawing.
Stick it’s important to keep in mind that the results of such a program won’t be revealed quickly. “You’re not going to see a positive or any kind of ROI in the first year,” she said. “If you roll out a new program or a new component of your program, it takes on average three to five years before you can really get a good sense of whether this is working or not and what impact it’s having.”