Let’s say your wellness plan is a sunflower. What does your flower look like? Is it a tiny sprout in the ground pushing through the dirt? Is it tall and waving in the breeze? Or is it in-between – growing slowly but it could be doing better. Maybe it needs a little fertilizer for that extra boost.
Jumping on the wellness plan bandwagon can help school, city and county employers reduce employee medical costs and help employees embrace a healthier lifestyle. Having all the tools to plant the seed is one thing but using all the tools to grow the seed is another. Why does one wellness plan fail while others thrive? Design and execution are the two factors which will determine if a wellness plan will succeed or fall flat. Here are 5 tools you need to make your wellness plan bloom.
Leadership Commitment and Support
One of the main reasons that wellness plans fail is not having key support of management. Human Resources may put a plan in place but it will fail if the administration is not behind it. Administration must support the wellness initiatives, communicate the value of the plan, reinforce how it fits into the organization’s purpose and actively participate in the wellness plan themselves. Employees are more likely to succeed in adopting a healthier lifestyle if they have a supportive environment in order to practice these new behaviors.
Building a Culture of Wellness
Set a lofty goal: to bring about a culture of wellness in your organization.
How? Make wellness a core value of the organization. This will help you integrate wellness into every aspect of work life – from policies to everyday workplace activities. You’ll find that once wellness is a core value, policies will form that support an employee’s emotional, physical, social and financial well-being. Some examples include offering flexible work schedules, creating a healthy physical environment (workplace gym, healthy food offerings, walking trail, etc.), providing social support and enforcing health-promoting policies. As you know, culture doesn’t change overnight but with a persistent message repeated over a time period, thinking will begin to shift.
Give Employees a Voice
Seeing lagging engagement in wellness activities? Try giving the employees a voice when it comes to their workplace wellness plan. This could be as simple as surveying employees to learn about what wellness topics are important to them and creating programs around that.
Another way to engage employees is to create a wellness committee. The committee should include employees from all levels of the organization who are passionate about health and wellness. The committee’s goal is to join together to help plan, promote and implement the wellness plan. Members provide a communication link between employees and administration, help create a culture of wellness and bring collaboration and excitement towards creating a healthy workplace.
Employee engagement can’t be successful if employees don’t know what’s going on. Communicate well and often. Make sure employees know what the wellness plan is all about, how it works, what’s in it for them and how they can get involved. The top barriers to wellness plan success and participation boils down to an employee’s lack of awareness, lack of interest and suspicions about employers’ motivations.
Spread the word through diverse channels designed specifically to the target audience. Materials should be relatable to the employees – at the proper reading level, culturally diverse photos and up-to-date. Health and wellness trends change fast – new studies are released, the definition of healthy eating is modified and exercise trends come and go. There is no better way to hurt the wellness plan’s credibility than to publish out-of-date information. Be sure materials are sound and vetted, but also up-to-the-minute.
Lastly, schools, cities and counties need to measure progress on what is working and not working within their wellness plan. Don’t offer the same programs every year if they are not getting the desired results.
Evaluate wellness plans by looking at the ROI (return on investment) and VOI (value of investment). ROI is looking at the tangible benefits of the plan such as absenteeism and reduction in certain medical claims (such as emergency room visits being replaced by urgent care visits). VOI looks at the broader views of the plan like increased loyalty, employee retention and boost in employee morale.