Let’s face it, most of us could improve on our overall wellness — we just need a kick in the pants to get going. How about creating a company wellness program?

For budget-sensitive opposition, consider this: a healthy workforce leads to a bigger bottom line. After all, healthy employees have higher productivity, lower health insurance claims, fewer sick days, better employee engagement, fewer workers’ comp claims, and lower turnover. In fact, a Harvard Business Review reported that workplace wellness initiatives can net a 6:1 ROI!

Ready to start? Here’s how.

Creating a Wellness Program – Step 1: Define which healthy behaviors you want to increase or decrease.

Do your employees need to exercise more? Sit less? Eat healthier foods? Stop smoking? Decrease blood pressure? Manage stress? Drink more water and less sugary beverages? Get more sleep?
Zero in on what needs to change, recognizing there may be more than just one behavior that needs improvement. Choose whether you want just one behavior change to be the focus or have several options from which employees can choose.

Creating a Wellness Program – Step 2: Select the wellness incentives you want to offer.

Ensure your incentives fit the following criteria:

  • Feasible for your budget. While wellness programs have a high ROI, you don’t want to break the bank.
  • Consistent with your work culture. If your company is short on staff, you may not want to offer a week-long vacation when everyone will be scrambling to cover for the winning employee.
  • Appeal to a wide audience. Some staff members may have religious preferences that would keep them from attending a concert or event on Sunday.
  • Align with the purpose of the wellness program. Rewarding someone for losing weight with a gift card to a fast-food restaurant may be counter-intuitive to the program.
  • Valued by employees. If the prize is a coffee mug and an employee already has a cupboard full of mugs, they may not care to participate.
  • Large enough to motivate employees to act. Cash prizes are popular, but will a $20 gift card really motivate an employee who makes $150K?
Creating a Wellness Program – Step 3: Develop guidelines.

When creating your program, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What must an employee do to earn a particular award?
  • How do employees track and report their progress?
  • Is it a contest, or a certain threshold where everyone who meets the requirement wins?
  • Will employees be able to pick and choose different programs that apply to their situations?
  • Can those who are unable to participate in a particular wellness challenge be able to still earn a comparable incentive? If so, how?
Creating a Wellness Program – Step 4: Create a communication plan.

Plan to introduce and promote your wellness program by doing the following:

  • Outline the rules of the health challenge(s) and specifics of how to earn incentives.
  • Encourage senior management to endorse the program by participating themselves.
  • Remind employees of the incentives through frequent, ongoing communication.
  • Announce winners and/or progress regularly to keep the wellness program top-of-mind.
Creating a Wellness Program – Step 5: Put your wellness program into action.

Track how many employees are participating, along with any measurable progress they’ve made individually and/or collectively. If participation is less than ideal, consider holding a seminar to educate employees on the benefits of improving health and wellness. You may want to remind employees of the shift to being more health-conscious by offering healthy foods in the break room, bottled water (or places to refill water bottles), exercise groups for employees to join, or whatever the health challenge may be for your team. And nothing says motivation by having a little intra- or inter-departmental competition…

Creating a Wellness Program – Step 6: Evaluate your program’s effectiveness.

At least annually, analyze and compare company data such as productivity, health insurance claims, number of sick days, workers’ comp claims, the severity of those claims, and turnover. Based on the results, revise your program as necessary and keep the excitement going!

For specific wellness ideas, please read 7 Ideas for Boosting Employee Wellness or contact your HR expert today!

Cariann Lieske, SHRM-CP

Author Cariann Lieske, SHRM-CP

While Cariann used to run an office, she is now focusing her career on Human Resources. When she’s not helping others resolve their employment issues, Cariann can be found wedging her way through an obstacle race or chauffeuring her husband for another 50-miler.

More posts by Cariann Lieske, SHRM-CP