For credit unions offering wellness programs, branding is critical. “Everything you do is associated with it,” says Nikki Wallace, an associate at consulting firm Mercer, New York. “If you take a holistic view, for an organization like a credit union that offers financial education, you can tie it to wellness. People reduce their stress, which improves their health, through financial education.”
A successful wellness program helps reduce risks, improve health, and increase productivity—all of which help an organization’s bottom line, adds Hina Vaidya, vice president of business and product development at Summit Health, Inc., Novi, Mich.
Wallace and Vaidya share their advice in a new white paper, published by the CUNA Human Resources/Training & Development Council.
Pay attention to legal factors in designing your program, too.
“The U.S. Department of Labor has a checklist with legal guidelines that must be followed when tying achievement of a health status factor to premium incentives,” writes Sondra Berger in a Cigna position paper, “Incentives: Motivation to Improve Health.” “I always recommend organizations check with their legal counsel before putting a plan like this in place.”
Executive support for your wellness program is crucial. If employees see something is important to their employer, it becomes something they value too.
“They’ll want to emulate it,” Sarah Gentry, health promotion manager at Cigna Healthcare of Arizona in Phoenix. “Creating a culture of health is the most critical factor in driving true behavior change.”
Work to obtain employee input and buy-in. Employees are more likely to participate in wellness programs if they feel they were involved in its development.
Some credit unions choose to outsource some or all of the administration of their wellness programs. Another strategy: Establish a wellness committee of staff members responsible for helping to plan, run, and promote the program.
Your program should address the attitudes of employees of varying levels of interest in the program. There will likely be three waves of participating employees, reports the white paper.
“As with technology, you’ll likely have early adopters who will see the first wave and participate,” says Wallace. “Then you’ll have employees who see that and want more information. You’ll also have employees who want to learn about the program and join at the last minute. Your wellness committee can be the grassroots champions of the program throughout.”
And don’t forget to celebrate employees’ achievements from the start. “[Running a program requires] a delicate mix of encouragement and motivation,” Gentry says.
For more information, visit the CUNA Human Resources/Training & Development Council website.