Corporate wellness programs are no longer just posters in the break room or monthly "healthy reminder" newsletters or emails.
Today's successful employee wellness programs often are high-tech--and challenging to implement.
Wellness leaders suggest these 10 strategies to boost participation and results.
1. Get support from the top
Ensure that your senior leadership and middle management are on board.
“Seeing our senior leaders at our wellness events speaks volumes to employees,” says Meredith Siemens, executive director of public relations and communications for $1.38 billion asset South Carolina Federal Credit Union in North Charleston.
2. Focus on community-building
Sure, you hope to put a dent in health care premiums. But wellness programs better your employees’ lives through a sense of community and work-life balance.
“Make it about engaging the employees,” Siemens advises.
3. Have a broader mission
Be an example for your community and start a “grassroots movement” for wellness.
“We hope we can plant the seed and our employees can take a commitment to wellness to their families and communities,” says Kimberly McLaughlin, South Carolina Federal’s human resources (HR) coordinator.
4. Keep it fresh
Go beyond just a wellness week and create varied and regular events at least once a month to keep your momentum and pique employees’ interest, says Siemens.
5. Mention your program during the hiring process
“We speak about the wellness program during our recruitment process. And once new employees come on board, we talk about it from day one so it is at the forefront of their minds,” says McLaughlin.
6. Make it easy
Bring the wellness solutions to your employees.
Have a gym on-site, or enable easy access to healthy foods.
“We joined ‘Fruit My Cube,’ an online farmer’s market service that delivers individual orders of fresh fruit and vegetables directly to the workplace once a week,” says Robyn Whalen, vice president of HR and administration for $207 million asset 1st Financial Federal Credit Union in Wentzville, Mo.
7. Create buzz
When kicking off its first company-wide challenge, 1st Financial Federal’s wellness committee wore professional dress attire accented with purple tennis shoes to an all-employee breakfast.
“People were definitely wondering what was up,” says Whalen. “It created a lot of buzz and excitement about the challenge.”
Even the smallest victories matter in changing habits. Champion participation and engage employees with small daily or weekly prizes.
“We wanted our employees to know that every step really does count, and together we can reach our goals,” says Whalen.
9. Let employees drive
1st Financial Federal requested employee volunteers for a wellness committee “to provide direction, guidance, ideas, and feedback,” says Whalen.
“We ensured that we had at least one volunteer from each department and branch location so all employees were represented at every level.”
Put some thought into the best time to launch the program, avoiding your busiest season. Think about employees’ communication preferences.
Without awareness, Tuma says, wellness initiatives will be underused and undervalued.