The decision to start an employee wellness program requires a substantial commitment of both time and resources. Workplace wellness programs that start for the right reasons can transform your company culture and have a positive impact on the lives of employees and their families. To get you started on the right track - here is a list of questions every HR professional should ask before launching a wellness program.
When it comes to developing a workplace wellness program, HR professionals are on the front lines – interacting with all stakeholders involved.
From C-suite decision-makers and benefit brokers, to vendors who will design the program and ultimately end users. It can seem overwhelming at times to be responsible to such an array of players. Before launching a workplace wellness program, be sure to ask yourself these 10 questions.
- What is the goal of the program from management’s perspective? One wellness program can look very different from another one, depending on the end goal. A wellness program that’s designed to lower overall benefit costs might focus on biometric screening or preventive care. If the goal is to create a healthier workforce, with savings as a secondary concern, your program may include features like gym memberships or providing healthy food options for employees. Knowing the end goal will go a long way in shaping the next steps.
- What do your employees want? After all, they are end-users, and if you don’t get their buy-in to participate then you won’t be able to deliver on the goal of the wellness program, no matter what it is.
- What steps can be taken to get buy-in at all levels? One idea that can help create buy-in from executives, supervisors, and employees is to create a wellness program committee or taskforce that can share ideas and make recommendations for a wellness program that will meet corporate goals while engaging employees to participate.
- How can you identify the right providers for a wellness program? A great place to start is with your current benefits broker- they may have helped other clients implement wellness programs, or they may be able to point you to vendors and providers with a strong reputation.
- Should you offer incentives to encourage participation? Employers that do not offer incentives to their employees to participate in wellness programs will face an uphill climb in terms of getting employees to participate, according to a study from the RAND Corporation.
- How will you communicate with your employees that the wellness program is available to them and encourage participation? Figuring this out is critical. According to one survey the top reason employees don’t participate in a wellness program in companies that offer one is that they simply didn’t feel they knew enough about it.
- What steps can you take internally to contribute to a wellness program? Some organizations can provide on-site components to a wellness program, from offering healthy food options to employees rather than a vending machine full of sugary drinks and snacks, to displaying motivational or informative posters in break rooms and common areas.
- How can you create an environment to maintain engagement over time? The 2016 Wellness Engagement Report by Limeade, a corporate wellness technology firm, found that manager support matters more than executive level support, so it’s critical that managers and supervisors are a part of your wellness approach.
- Are you able to document progress and outcomes? Each organization may be interested in different metrics to determine success, but some might be overall health spending, participation and employee satisfaction with the program. Even turnover or productivity can be indicators of a successful program.
- Are there compliance issues to be concerned about? HR professionals should be aware that there are some regulations governing wellness programs, and your benefits broker and providers should be able to make sure your wellness program complies with regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
What has your experience with workplace wellness programs? Have you encountered any that landed just right? Share with us in the comments below.
-  http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_briefs/RB9800/RR9842/RAND_RB9842.pdf
-  https://hbr.org/2016/10/why-people-do-and-dont-participate-in-wellness-programs
-  https://www.benefitnews.com/list/7-questions-employers-should-ask-when-preparing-for-wellness#slide-4
-  http://www.limeade.com/content/uploads/2016/09/QW-LimeadeWellBeingEngagementReport-final.pdf?submissionguid=5d062d00-de2b-4faf-8007-a6ff6d37ba2c
-  https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/workplace-wellness/