Don’t Start Your Worksite Wellness Program

Employee health and wellbeing programs are all the rage today. New programs are being launched all the time. If you are thinking about launching a program, you do want to optimize your effort and maximize the benefits, right?

The workplace is often seen as a venue through which to reach adults for the purpose of health education and promotion. While employee health and wellbeing programs are often seen as offering many potential benefits, far too many organizations do not understand the intricacies and challenges associated with launching or implementing an effective and successful program.

The five mistakes listed below are the most commonly made mistakes when launching or implementing a worksite wellness program.

Mistake #1: No Initial Assessment

Far too many worksite wellness programs are launched or implemented without the benefit of a comprehensive, organization-wide needs assessment and subsequent data analysis having been conducted. How do you know what needs to be addressed by the programming and interventions if you have not done any type of assessment?

What You Should Do Differently

Build an appropriate foundation for your program by examining existing, available employee health, wellness and wellbeing data. Find out from senior leaders what they want. Learn from employees what their needs and interests might be. Identify existing resources you can tap into to support your programming and interventions.

Mistake #2: No Program Plan

Recent survey research revealed that only 16% of employers responding to the survey have an employee health and wellbeing plan in place.

What You Should Do Differently

Make a plan! Your program should have at least an annual operating plan to guide its operation so the program is not dependent upon any one person. What happens if that employee dies or leaves the organization? Having a plan in place will mean that your program be sustained, despite the changes. Your plan should be based upon the program’s purpose and that it contains goals, objectives, a program timeline and a budget.

Mistake #3: No Plan for Monitoring, Measuring or Evaluation

The latest survey research shows that less than 45% of the wellness programs in existence today monitor, measure, or evaluate what they do. What value is there in implementing a program if you don’t measure the results it achieves?

What You Should Do Differently

Identify the metrics associated with your program’s purpose, goals and objectives. Create an evaluation plan for how you will measure these metrics for each intervention, where appropriate, and for your program overall.

Mistake #4: Programming and Interventions Not Aligned

The typical employee population can generally be stratified into three different groups based on health risk level: No or low risk, Moderate risk and High risk. One size or type of health, wellness or wellbeing programming or intervention will not successfully address all three groups.

What You Should Do Differently

The programming or interventions you offer need to be aligned with the appropriate risk level. Programming and interventions should also be aligned with employee readiness to change. Employees will also participate more when they have a role in deciding on and in delivering the programming or interventions.

Mistake #5: Lacking Management Support

Successful employee health and wellbeing programs have the support and ideally the involvement and participation of all levels of management. Employees readily notice and take their participation cues from who does and does not actively support and participate in the program’s offerings.

What You Should Do Differently

Talk to all levels of management to learn why they are not supportive of employee health and wellness and then work to resolve or overcome their concerns. Provide the necessary resources to managers and leaders so they will have what they need to support the program with their direct reports.

Wellness is more than having broccoli in the cafeteria or having healthier items in the vending machines. Worksite wellness is about making the healthiest choice the easiest choice for employees.