Launching a Wellness Program in Your Company
It is extremely important and beneficial for an employer, to have a wellness program in today’s world especially after Covid 19 when the balance between work and life has blurred and employees are now are paying less time and attention to their health. The advantages to the employees and the employers are innumerable. You can have numerous discussions, and workshops regarding how to go about a wellness program. However, implementation is a daunting task, as it is always easier to preach than practice. That’s where we at Wellintra Fitness come in; to guide you. Based on our experience organising many wellness sessions and programs at companies across India for over 10 years, we can show you, how your business, with its own distinctive characteristics and concerns, can execute a successful wellness program. We have simplified Corporate Wellness Programs into five fundamental steps.
- Gauge your employees’ health-related interests
- Assemble a team to manage and execute your wellness measures
- Declare your program and market it internally
- Administer individual health screening assessments
- Track and assess the success of your wellness program once its underway
Now let us elaborate on these steps for the smooth execution of your wellness program.
1. Gauge your employees’ Health-related Interests
By now, you may have gotten enamoured with the advantages of instituting a wellness program. You may have had far-flung discussions with your top management, and other internal departments about the various benefits – but what about your employees’ thoughts? Before going full throttle and rolling out loads of activities, remember to learn from other employers’ mistakes. Your activity-based program should be in alignment with your employees’ interests. How does one figure that out? Its simple. Have some conversations with your employees, or if your task force is too big, speak to some of their representatives.
By doing so you will achieve two desired targets:
- Filtering the list of what your program will include, and
- Making employees feel like they have been involved in the planning process
Now, if you have a small task force or a shop, it would be easy to have one-on-one conversations with the employees and discover their likes and dislikes. However, when it is a larger organization, like say a corporate structure, informal conversations would not be possible. In such a case the correct method would be to conduct a survey.
The survey could contain a plethora of questions, such as what physical activity they prefer, which classes or seminars they would be inclined to join, how many times a year they would be willing to participate, and so on and so forth.
Once you have tallied the results, tailor-make a wellness program to suit your employee’s needs and wants.
2. Assemble a Team to Execute and Manage your wellness Measures
There is no doubt, that for the successful execution of your program, you need to involve the top management and integrate different skill sets into the process.
So firstly, choose the right leader. You may be in a position of authority, but do you possess the time or the vast health knowledge required for the job? Find someone on your staff who fits the bill, who is willing to work his charisma, and who has a desire to help others.
Even if you appoint a leader, round up a team of helpers to share the workload. If your company is small, a few people are enough on the team. If your corporation is larger, then divide the work into different departments and choose people to represent them.
Appoint them formally, and they write their new responsibilities into their job descriptions.
Bring in outside professionals if required – such as our company Wellintra Fitness. Assess your employee’s time frames. Time is extremely valuable in every company. If the employees do not have the time, to dedicate to the wellness program, you could bring in skilled people to do the job.
Encourage your employees to get involved. Your office staff may already be involved in certain activities together; they may have formed their own sports team or may have a walking group or jogging group together. Even if your employees aren’t this organized you can encourage them to begin fitness activities together, as it helps develop a sense of kinship as well. You don’t need to offer every activity possible. It really could be something as simple as a post-lunch walking group or a bi-weekly yoga session at the office.
3. Declare your program and market it internally
Let us suppose one of your employees is facing a deteriorating health condition. By supporting him in changing his behavior, and improving his health you are doing him as well as the company, a huge favor. Due to this, the employee would be utterly grateful to you. But is this always the case? No. sometimes the employee may grumble, and not want to partake in any of the activities. There are numerous reasons why workers don’t want to participate in fitness programs. They may be too set in their ways, or may not have much time to spare. They could be in denial about their existing health conditions, or maybe afraid to try new things.
So, what should an employer do?
Start with a bang. Although your employees should be grateful, for what you are doing for them, not all will see it as a good thing, unless you put in a focused effort into marketing it. You could send out emails, pamphlets, newsletters, and announcement letters internally outlining the benefits of your plan.
Make your program easy and accessible. Sometimes employees don’t respond to emails and newsletters, so make it transparent and easy to sign up for. You could send reminder emails, issue invitations, put posters up in the office, and multiple communications to garner your employee’s attention. Nothing works as well as a personal phone call as well. You could hold seminars on the same day every week, so it becomes easy to remember.
Create an atmosphere of fun. Remember, everyone’s life is fast-paced today. People have packed schedules, so sometimes its difficult to fit exercise in. People have family, kids, commitments, traffic. This list is endless. An added exercise schedule, may feel like drudgery. Therefore, try to create an atmosphere of fun where people look forward to the activities. Or teach them health benefits, that they would enjoy repeating to others.
Administer individual health screening assessments
Now come in the surveys and tests. These reveal various facts and should be made the highest priority. The first is an HRA questionnaire, in which your employees divulge all the details about their health, including their habits, lifestyles, known health conditions, and willingness to make changes.
The second is the bio metric screening, which consists of various blood tests such as, cholesterol, bone density and more.
In order to get help with this step, it is best to bring in professionals. Even if you have a medical degree, or you try to conduct your own survey you won’t receive any perfect summary results, that people who are skilled can provide. As an employer, you have to keep in mind the cost of surveys. HRAs may be more cost effective, as compared to bio metrics, but will be less specific.
It is important to encourage your employees to participate. Not only is the big picture information helpful for planning the rest of your wellness program, but studies show, you aren’t likely to get data from many of your highest risk employees, unless at least fifty percent of them do an HRA. Early no -participation could leave employees completely out of the loop. Offering incentives, such as cash or a gift card, will help increase the participation. You could also penalize for non-participation.
Chart your Program’s Progress
Your institution’s long term commitment to wellness, should not depend on instant health improvement results. Even the best wellness programs take time to get ingrained in the work place, and gain momentum. Nevertheless, its worth keeping an eye on seeing the progress your wellness program is making.
Few years down the line, you don’t want to realize that your wellness program has indeed made people healthier, but you do not remember when you started, or what seems to have worked. In order to avoid such a scenario, keep gathering information and maintain a data base on the health of your work force. By doing this you will realize what activities, or what trends were effective for your company. Keep a track of participation. If there are very few then take measures to address the problem. If the numbers are high, then that’s fantastic! Create a feedback channel for employees, and distribute evaluation forms after classes or seminars.
Creating a dataset of progress in your employees health will also help you become a smarter employee and may help you bag a coveted role and higher position and salary in your next job!
Evaluate the big picture. You should get an overview of your wellness program at regular intervals. Accumulate internal data, and convene data on program cost. Survey your employees regarding overall program satisfaction. Re-administer HRAs and biometric test at regular intervals. Gather vending machine data. If you have stocked the machines with healthy options, then keep a check on what’s working.
Take a look around; if you are seeing happier, healthier faces, and a feeling of solidarity forming around healthy activities, it shows you that your wellness program is working. If you’re seeing positive changes, you can assume your wellness program is helping your company’s bottom line. In case the results are not good enough, don’t be disheartened. Some wellness programs take three or four years to catch momentum. Celebrate your program’s successes and take your success stories to the media. If it is leading to a happier, healthier workforce it’s a story you should share! More powerful than the will to win is the courage to begin, so take your first step towards inculcating a wellness program today!
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