How to Start an Employee Wellness Program at Your Company

How to Start an Employee Wellness Program at Your Company

Healthy employees are happy employees, and if your business is encouraging them to maintain their healthy lifestyle, then you’ll benefit as well. Healthy employees perform their jobs more efficiently because they miss less time due to illness. They may be less prone to injury and may accrue lower healthcare costs. As an employer, you can feel good when you help your staff achieve a better standard of life as well, whether that means improved nutritional habits or a greater amount of exercise.

Read more about the benefits of an employee wellness program here.

How do you go about beginning a corporate wellness program at your business? Follow these steps to get one in place no matter how big or how small your company may be.

start an employee wellness program

1. Do Your Research

Whether you’re in management or a first-year employee, you’ll need to identify the reasons for wanting to establish a wellness program and will need data to back up your request. Conduct a few assessments of the workplace. A few possibilities are listed below.

  • Survey fellow employees. Find out what they’d like to see in a wellness program and whether they’d be interested in participating. If you find that interest is low, you may need to ask for additional input to find out what could pique their interest and encourage them to participate.
  • Assess the need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer an excellent guide on how to conduct a workplace health assessment.
  • Review how many people use your group health insurance plan. The greater the number of employees who are accessing care via the plan, the more significant savings your company would realize because healthier employees would use the plan less.

Using this information, you can prepare an informed case for implementing an employee wellness program. You’ll need to prove it’s worth the initial cost and demonstrate a well-thought out plan of how you’ll encourage employees to participate.

2. Set a Budget

Before you make your program pitch, you’ll want to understand and plan how to clearly communicate what the upfront cost to the company will be. Consider various levels of programming that could fit into different budgets. This can help to enhance your presentation by showing your company’s leadership that you have the company’s best financial interest in mind and are open-minded as you discuss a program pilot.

Be sure not to skimp on your research and planning when it comes to this budgeting component. Look for sample program costs in similarly sized companies so you can provide realistic estimates.

When planning your budget, don’t forget to set some money aside for motivational prizes, such as a tablet for whoever logs the most miles on their fitness tracker during a given month. This will help keep employees motivated and may help play to their competitive sides.

3. Talk to the Management Team

Once you’ve determined that a wellness program would be welcomed by and beneficial to employees, it’s time to take the idea to the management team at your company. The key players to include in the conversation will likely vary from company to company, so talk to your supervisor or someone who has a track record of implementing successful programs to help determine who the decision makers will be.

Once you’ve identified who needs to be at the table, schedule a time to talk and prepare a polished, professional explanation of why wellness programming should be implemented. You should consider how the wellness plan can help the company to reach both short- and long-term goals.

Come prepared with data and realistic financial metrics. For instance, how much money could the company save if employees became more physically fit or reduced their stress levels? Don’t be afraid to think creatively in your arguments, in addition to presenting statistics and fiscal information. To help garner support, show a strong link between desirable business outcomes, such as increasing sales, and increased employee wellness. For example, if salespeople used fewer sick days, they could spend more time out in the field, making connections and closing deals. Be sure that the data you’re providing is accurate and that the outcomes are transferable to your own organization so you don’t set yourself up for failure.

4. Start a Wellness Committee

Ensuring employee buy-in to a wellness program is critical. Ask influential employees to join a wellness committee to help determine the direction of the program. Their buy-in may help others feel motivated to commit to the idea.  For maximum buy-in, include employees from all departments and all levels of the business.

5. Establish Concrete and Measurable Objectives

This will be one of the committee’s most important tasks. You should make your goals concrete, measurable, and attainable. Rather than saying, “We want to help people stop smoking,” say, “We want to decrease the number of employees who smoke by three percent in the next fiscal year.” Having these solid aims will help to tailor the fitness program’s offerings.

You can also see whether the program is working or needs some adjustments when you can clearly measure results after taking the time to set solid goals. Outside of program evaluation, this also allows those who participated in program planning to highlight the work they’ve put in and the outcome when it comes time for individual reviews.

6. Identify the Components of Your Program

The wellness committee should rely heavily on the results of your employee survey to shape your program. As a whole, the group will need to consider and evaluate various program options to determine the best fit for your company. Different businesses need different things. For example, a company dominated by desk jobs may want to focus on incorporating more exercise into employees’ daily routines, while a company with a large number of employees on the road regularly may be interested in teaching them about healthy eating habits on the go. Other wellness program focus areas may include:

  • Financial health
  • Health screenings
  • Exercise programs
  • Mental health
  • Weight loss

7. Introduce the Program with a Splashy Rollout

Explain the wellness program to your employees. Make the rollout exciting. Hold Q&A sessions where people can learn about the program. Consider including some small contests to encourage participation. Serve healthy snacks such as veggies, hummus, and fruit. Choose a core message about the benefits of the program and repeat it as the program gets off the ground.

Regularly evaluate the success of your program, and don’t be afraid to make adjustments. Encourage and respond to employee input, so staff remains engaged in the process. Remember that healthy employees help your bottom line and make your business more successful. They’re worth the investment.

Looking for more employee wellness program ideas? Check out this post!

As an educational addition to any employee wellness program, we offer our Select Employee Groups – businesses who offer PSECU membership as an employee benefit – free financial health seminars for their staff through our WalletWorks financial education program. Email walletworks@psecu.com or call 717.777.2635 for more information.

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The content provided in this publication is for informational purposes only. Nothing stated is to be construed as financial or legal advice. Some products not offered by PSECU. PSECU does not endorse any third parties, including, but not limited to, referenced individuals, companies, organizations, products, blogs, or websites. PSECU does not warrant any advice provided by third parties. PSECU does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by third parties. PSECU recommends that you seek the advice of a qualified financial, tax, legal, or other professional if you have questions.