Why Start a Wellness Program?
The cost of preventable health problems to corporate employees and their employers in both human terms and financial terms is staggering. Today's companies are finding that they can use rewards and group dynamics to help people improve their health. Because healthier employees help to create a more positive, productive and harmonious work environment, the companies receive a side benefit from helping their employees to improve their health.
The costs of poor health
Lack of health and fitness can take its toll on both individual employees and on the health of a company. Consider these costs of poor health:
- the human cost of pain, anxiety and suffering due to maladies that keep employees from feeling vibrant, energetic and happy
- the loss of advancement and success due to fatigue, lack of vitality or less-than-optimal ability to solve problems or get along with co-workers
- the loss of productivity due to reduced capability, performance and mental attitude
- the financial cost of health care and health insurance that puts pressure on company financial health and employee income
What You Can Do About It
Because employers can measurably benefit from healthier, happier employees, the cost of motivating workers toward healthier choices can be offset by substantial benefits from increased productivity and reduced costs.
200 Percent Return on Investment?
Some corporate evaluations of internal wellness programs are suggesting an amazing finding: employers may be able to double their investment from programs specifically aimed at motivating employees to make healthier choices. Of course, the success of every program depends on many factors, but can anyone doubt the tremendous benefits to employees and employers from healthier, happier employees?
What problems can a wellness program address?
Certain areas of health have been identified as major causes of disease and ageing. You will likely want to focus on those areas which have the greatest potential for improving the health and well-being of your employees. A well-developed wellness program can work hard to focus on these areas, building enthusiasm for the goals you set.
You may want to focus your wellness program on helping individuals to:
- get and stay smoke-free
- achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- get regular check-ups
- follow through on medical recommendations
- follow a healthy diet
- exercise regularly
- stay fit
- prevent illness and physical harm
- improve safety / reduce accidents
- and other goals!
How to Motivate your employees toward wellness
The health of most employees can be improved, even the health of those already actively interested in health and fitness. The overall corporate goal of your health and wellness program should be to help all employees rise to new levels of health and fitness. A good way to approach your program might be to think of employees as being generally in one these three categories:
Very health-oriented employees These are people who are very knowledgeable about health, and make an exceptional effort to do the things that benefit their health. They typically exercise and eat well, and really try to live a healthy lifestyle. There may only be a small percentage of such people on your team. There may not be much you need to do to motivate these people to care about their own wellness, but they can be very valuable to your program! If you prominently laud these people and reward them for meeting the wellness goals you set, they can be a tremendous source of inspiration to the rest of your employees.
The Majority of Your Employees Most of your employees will probably benefit from an excellent wellness program by helping to motivate them to living a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps 90% or more of all of your employees will fall in this category. By focusing your wellness efforts on this group, you will likely maximize your results. An excellent wellness program works to build the motivation and knowledge that will inspire this group of employee to adopt healthier behaviors. Great programs are designed to significantly focus on what's important, and to keep that focus there in a very positive way. By inspiring and quickly rewarding each of these employees to a higher level of healthy behavior you will be off to a great start toward getting successful results from your wellness program.
Those Least Interested in Health You may have a percentage of your employees who may not seem as receptive to participating in the wellness program. Don't lose heart! Just keep your focus on middle group, where your efforts offer the greatest potential return. With patience and a little luck people from this group may gradually warm to the idea of working on their health.
7 Steps to Starting your wellness program
- Create a point program Build a program designed around awarding points for your employees, and award the points each month based on the achievement of various goals. Offer a great selection of attractive gifts that your employees can get by using their points.
- Decide what goals you would like to set for your employees You probably want to include the essentials, such as being smoke free, exercising and eating well.
- Decide how to measure progress You may want to build a program that includes both self-reporting and some verifiable elements. You'll likely find that employees can be trusted to be honest about self-reporting their behavior. Make it easy for employees to keep track of their healthy behaviors.
- Decide your budget for the accomplishment of each goal. (For example, $XXX worth of points for no smoking during the previous month)
- Make it positive and fun. You may want to ask employees for positive stories about their participation in the wellness program which you can put in a company newsletter. Make sure every communication about the program is welcoming and cheerful. The program should always be perceived as something voluntary and fun.
- Decide what you will reward (The reward should be meaningful enough to motivate.) We suggest a large selection of gifts in a wide range of categories, but not cash or gift cards. People may not be very motivated if you offer 50 cents or a dollar a day to do certain healthy behaviors, but there is something about points that creates a different mental perception that can multiply the motivational impact of your budget.
- Finalize the details (Who's eligible, how will employees select gifts, program rules, how to announce program to employees, etc.)
- Start your program with a bang! Create some fun and mystery about a surprise announcement, start it out with a big meeting or celebration.
The RewardWell employee wellness program
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