Ready, aim, prepare, shoot! 4 steps to wellness that works

June 17, 2015

In today’s always-on business world, it’s harder than ever for employees to devote time to health and wellness. More and more companies are looking for creative ways to promote the well-being of their workers, but some are hesitant to adopt wellness programs for a few surprising reasons.

While implementing wellness programs is becoming more affordable, many employers fear that wellness programs will dig into valuable work hours and hamper productivity. Even more frequent — and prevalent — is employer uncertainty. Business leaders aren’t exactly sure what wellness programs are supposed to achieve, and if they do, measuring the results can sometimes feel like an overwhelming challenge.

To ensure you’re aiming in the right direction when designing a wellness program, we recommend these four essential steps:

Step 1: Define Priorities

First, ask the key leaders of your business what they want to accomplish with a wellness program. Do they want to boost employee morale and retention? Do they want to reduce healthcare costs and absenteeism? Then, poll your employees to see what they desire. Mold all of these priorities into companywide wellness goals, and define your wellness wins. I’ll talk more about this later.

Step 2: Collect Data.

Next, study your company’s health claims data. Identify the most expensive and most preventable line items. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some chronic issues like heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis are among the most costly and preventable health problems. Cater your wellness programs toward preventing the most dangerous and expensive issues. Even if you don’t have access to health claims, start with your absenteeism rate; it’s a great indicator of health challenges.

Step 3: Measure Results.

With the right priorities and a clear sense of the data, step three is where you create a survey to measure whether you’ve achieved your goals. Establish a baseline before you launch so you can measure and analyze results during and after the program. Apply the same tools and metrics used by evidence-based public health program leaders, including:

  • Statistically valid self-report surveys.
  • Simple before-and-after measures for issues like retention and absenteeism.
  • Biometrics for resting heart rate, weight, and blood sugar levels (if done right).


Step 4: Kick the Tires.

Finally, once you’ve established your priorities, goals, and measures, it’s time to determine which external wellness partners could help you succeed. Do your due diligence when designing or selecting an external wellness partner. Ask lots of questions to really make sure that it fits your company’s goals. The perfect program is out there; it just might take some work to make it happen.

What Does a Wellness Win Look Like?

For some companies, seeing a solid group of high-risk employees complete a 12-week wellness program and stick to their new healthy habits is a huge win. For others, getting thousands of employees to buy in and feel engaged is a win. Wellness wins truly vary from company to company, and that’s why it’s so important to poll your workplace and develop a clear set of achievable goals.

A simple 10-question survey ought to do the trick. Seek to uncover your employees’ motivation levels, their current good and bad habits, and their ultimate goals.

Repeat the same exact survey after the program is complete to see how their responses have changed. Do they seem more knowledgeable and motivated? That’s a win. Is there evidence of real behavior change? Did the habits stick for six months? 12 months? You’ve hit a home run!

Create a Culture of Wellness

Even a perfectly planned wellness program will fail if it’s launched in a hostile, uninspired environment. The same way trees need water, these programs need to be fed by a culture of wellness. Such cultures are built from the top-down, so be sure that your leaders actively participate in, show support for, and respect the initiative.

Installing a wellness program is a companywide effort. If everyone feels involved with its creation, they’ll be more willing to participate and take it seriously.

Accelerate your productivity and keep your business healthy with a program everyone can get behind.

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