Retention / Health and wellness

Four steps to a successful health and wellness program

Last updated: November 30, 2018

person taking healthy steps up stairs

A health and wellness program can have a long-lasting and sustainable impact on employee health and well-being, as well as employee engagement. This makes it a great way to support a healthy workplace culture.

While each health and wellness program is unique and will reflect the specific needs of the organizations, successful programs share some common qualities. They:

  • are fully backed by leadership commitment and support;
  • have been designed and delivered by a wide range of staff so that they authentically reflect your specific workplace culture. Many districts achieve this by creating a workplace wellness committee made up representatives from all employee groups; \incorporate frequent communication in a variety of formats, tailored to the audience and clearly detailing what the program is about, how it works, the benefits to the employee and the employer and how to get involved; and
  • are evaluated for their return on investment (ROI) and value on investment (VOI). ROI is the tangible measurement such as reduction in medical costs, lower rates of absenteeism, replacement costs, etc. VOI measures the broader impact of the program on employee morale, talent attraction and retention.

Four steps to a successful health and wellness program

The following four-step process can help you create, implement and evaluate a health and wellness program in your organization:

1. Assess your organization’s readiness to implement a health and wellness program.

The following steps will help you identify your current state, build consensus at all levels of the organization and move forward.

  • Obtain support from senior management, including a commitment for financial resources.
  • Form a committee that includes representation from each employee group and if possible, identify one or more ‘wellness champions’ at your worksite.
  • Review data related to employee benefits, including your employee and family assistance plan (EFAP), extended health usage and absence data. This information can help guide you in deciding which programs would be most beneficial to the greatest number of employees.
  • Conduct an assessment or survey of employee needs, attitudes and preferences in regard to a health and wellness program.
  • Develop a business plan showing possible return on investment and value on investment.

2. Carefully design the health and wellness program to ensure you can meet your goals.

A good health and wellness program encourages employees to adopt healthy behaviours. Your plan should target areas where there is the greatest need or desire for change. You can identify these areas using input from committee members and the results of the employee assessment or survey. Programs should be continuous with no end date.

Here are a few other tips:

  • Start with your ‘why’. Clarify why it is important to develop a health and wellness program and communicate that ‘why’ at every opportunity.
  • Determine what results you wish to achieve.
  • Consider all dimensions of health such as physical, mental, social and financial health.
  • Research other successful health and wellness programs to identify elements that could be incorporated into your plan. You do not have to re-create the wheel.

3. Implement the health and wellness program, including a comprehensive communication and roll-out plan.

You do not have to start big. Consider one or two areas that will provide the highest level of employee participation.

  • The critical factor is clarity and communication – repeat, repeat, repeat!
    • This is what it is.
    • This is how it works.
    • Here is how it benefits you.
    • Here are ways you can get involved.
  • Successful implementation requires employee ownership of the health and wellness program.
  • DO NOT just send people to a website.
  • Celebrate achievements and share the fun.

4. Evaluate the health and wellness program on an ongoing basis to identify opportunities for improvement and possible expansion.

Evaluating your health and wellness program will maintain accountability and sustainability. At the start of your program, commit to monitoring and evaluating baseline data at specific check-in dates.

  • Key measurements include:
    • employee participation, such as number of participants,
    • employee satisfaction with the program gathered through surveys and feedback and
    • behaviour change, such as the adoption of healthier habits, obtained through tracking forms or behaviour-change questions on a survey.
  • Financial outcomes:
    • Absenteeism, medical services costs, return on investment.

When you share your evaluation data, decision-makers have the information they need to continue supporting and possibly expanding resources for ongoing health and wellness programs. The data can also guide your wellness committee by providing ongoing programming ideas.

Learn more

• Pacific Blue Cross My Good Health helps employers develop a health and wellness program specific to the organization’s individual needs.