Congratulations! You have made the decision to design your own corporate Wellness Program! More and more companies are prioritizing the health and well-being of their workforce. And with significant increases in chronic and mental illness, drastically affecting the workplace and company productivity, it has never been more important to focus on the health of your employees.
So now what? You have decided to design a program and manage it internally, selecting a program director or manager. You have gauged your workforce and determined what they want and need. You have created your budget and now you want a holistic approach to wellness, incorporating your workplace culture. You have found that your existing insurance provider and benefits companies offer tools and programs that compliment your vision. How do you put it all together? How do you now deliver this program to your employees and ensure their participation?
Here are twelve tips and ideas from an award-winning corporate Wellness Program to design a program that your employees will appreciate, in which they will participate, and from which you will see the all-round returns.
1. Create a Program Definition
Your Wellness Program needs to be clearly defined. In taking the pulse of your employees, through surveys and by conducting focus groups, to determine what they want and need out of a wellness program, you have the tools to structure your program accordingly. For example, a tiered program is a holistic approach to wellness. Utilize the top topics chosen by your employees as the areas in which they are most interested (i.e. Health, Fitness, Mental Well-Being, Financial Wellness, Gratitude and Mindfulness) and design all elements, activities and rewards of your program around these areas.
2. Wellness Ambassadors
In order for your program to be successful, your employees have to believe in your program. By assigning Wellness Program Ambassadors, you are alleviating some of the burden from the program director but also helping to make the program more personal, through peer-support. Your employees are more likely to participate if their own managers, co-workers and supervisors are participating. Ambassadors participate in all related activities and rally the troops! You can assign one Ambassador per office (if your company has offices in different cities) or by floor or by department, for example.
3. Annual Wellness Calendar
A wonderful way to organize your corporate Wellness Program is through an annual calendar, in conjunction with nationally recognized wellness-themed months and days (i.e. Heart Month in February with an event taking place on Valentine’s Day, Cancer Awareness month in June, Mental Health Awareness day in October, etc.). By creating a calendar of events and activities for the year, you can enable your employees to plan their attendance in advance, to contribute ideas to events and activities and subsequently increase program engagement. As the manager of your program, you will also find much more relatable information through these nationally recognized themes as the government and health agencies dedicate websites and campaigns throughout the year, accordingly.
4. Wellness Newsletters
Electronic newsletters are a great way to reach all employees, with an aim to increase program participation and raise awareness on matters relating to Wellness. By utilizing the nationally recognized monthly themes, you can design your newsletter around the topic of the month. Alert employees to any new tools, programs or benefits relating to your program and provide links that they can use on their own schedule to learn more about your program. Include a monthly contest, health stats and tips, ask a skill testing question (perhaps about the previous month’s program content) – make it fun and engage your employees. Always remind them about your incentives as well.
5. Monthly Lunch and Learn Sessions
In accordance with the nationally observed monthly wellness themes, where possible, organize a monthly Lunch and Learn session. You can either provide a healthy lunch for those who attend or have the employees bring their own lunch. Have an expert come and speak to your employees about a pre-determined topic, provide handouts, ask questions at the end of the session and ensure the speaker can stay a few minutes afterwards to speak to anyone in private. These sessions engage your employees in a group setting and provide a social setting in which to learn and grow, both independently and as a team.
6. Utilize Benefit Provider Tools
You likely have tools at your disposal that you never knew you had until you researched creating your own Wellness Program. Many insurance and benefit providers have wonderful tools, such as on-line video libraries, dedicated websites, books, pamphlets and discs available through mail, all relating to issues of Wellness, that can be accessed by your employees as a part of your Wellness program. Make sure your employees know about these valuable tools, through your program launch and your monthly newsletter. Many of these materials can also be shared by your employee with their family, extending the impact and value of your program.
7. Healthy Vending Machines
Most office spaces have vending machines, so why not exchange what’s inside them for more healthy options? If your current vending machine provider is not willing to do this, there are plenty of companies who will. You can start slowly, replacing favorites such as offering baked chips and dark chocolate, or you can go full-on healthy with fresh fruit and smoothies in place of pop. This may be a process but your employees will show you what works and what doesn’t.
8. Cooking Classes
Unless you have a kitchen on-site, you will have to source this idea externally. Several grocery store chains, Whole Foods for example, offer corporate cooking classes as a compliment to your corporate wellness program. The cost is minimal and this is a fun and exciting way to engage your employees in wellness. Again, this is something that will extend to the families of your employees. You may find that in utilizing these courses through a grocery store, that the store will give your company additional perks such as discounted shopping or free recipe cards, etc. There is no better way to teach nutrition than through meal creation and planning.
9. Gym Memberships
Providing your employees with a discounted gym membership is one of the best ways to engage them in fitness. While you may be able to organize some fitness activities on-site, such as a stair-climb challenge or a walking club, most employees prefer to work out in a gym setting, either before or after work, some even on their lunch break. Partner with a local fitness chain and offer a discounted gym membership to your employees and their immediate family. And make sure that those who participate in this offer are rewarded through your incentive program. Keeping fit and healthy should be one of the ultimate aims of your program.
10. Charitable Initiatives
Engaging in charitable initiatives and encouraging generosity should be an integral part of your corporate Wellness Program. Far too often, this important element of mental well-being is forgotten. You can incorporate this into your program by hosting fundraising events (i.e. cycle for heart, run for the cure, etc.) or by donating your time to a local event or charity. The possibilities here are endless. Utilize your surrounding organizations and engage any employees who may already be involved.
11. Financial Presentations
Either as part of your Lunch and Learn program or otherwise, incorporate financial health into your Wellness Program. Utilize your financial provider to come and speak to groups of employees about things such as retirement savings, registered education savings plans, estate planning, budgeting, etc. Most financial institutions will offer these types of workshops at no cost.
12. Incentive Programs
There are several incentive options you can incorporate into your Wellness Program. You can use one of these ideas or group ideas together to work for your budget and vision for your program.
- Points System
A points system is a fun way to encourage participation and some healthy competition for employees, either within themselves or between each other. Perhaps even between offices, departments or regions too! It is a good idea to start all employees off with ten points, to encourage more participation. Designate a point value for each component of your program (i.e. an employee gets 10 points for attending a Lunch and Learn, an employee gets 5 points for answering a question from the newsletter, an employee gets 20 points for leading a stair climber challenge, etc.). Then create a rewards system. You can have one ultimate winner, so the employee with the most points at the end of the year wins a gym membership, for example, or you can break this down into more frequent and smaller rewards, such as monthly gift cards.
- Lowering Deductibles
Another method of incentive is to offer employees a contribution towards their insurance deductible, offering a partial rebate and other further rewards for participating in the company’s Wellness Program.
- Additional Prizes
Door prizes, small trophies and ribbons, certificates and other tangible rewards are more ways to encourage healthy competition and participation from your employees for your various Wellness Program components. And remember to reward your program Ambassadors as well, as they are an integral part of your program’s success.
Derek McDoogle says
I like how you mentioned that more and more companies are prioritizing the health and well-being of their workforce. My boss told us in a meeting that he would like to add an incentive to the top performers every month. It would be nice to receive an award such as a glass trophy to put it on your desk as recognition of your hard work.
Midland Health says
Thank you Derek. Everyone appreciates being recognized for their hard work. Workplace Wellness Program incentives are a great way to increase engagement and encourage everyone to prioritize their own health while participating in a little healthy, workplace competition!
Vivian Black says
The company I work for has asked me to be in charge of starting a corporate wellness program in order to prioritize the health and well-being of our employees. I love how you talked about creating the program definition and making sure that the goals and structure is defined clearly. We will keep these tips in mind and find a professional that can help us start and maintain this program.
Midland Health says
Thank you for your comment, Vivian. Kudos to your company for starting a Corporate Wellness Program! Investing in the well-being of your workforce is key to success.