There are a vast number of types of corporate wellness programs. In general, corporate wellness programs encourage people to take steps to prevent the onset or worsening of a health condition or sickness and to adopt lifestyles that are healthier. Businesses may implement many types of corporate wellness programs, from onsite gyms to simple wellness newsletters. While some corporations have instituted very comprehensive corporate wellness programs, others have achieved savings or increased productivity with a few relatively easy activities which promote healthier lifestyles. Getting started is of the utmost importance when it comes to corporate wellness programs. Having a plan, along with one or two corporate wellness programs, can serve as a foundation for building a more comprehensive corporate wellness programs in the future time.
Why corporate wellness programs?
Corporate Wellness Programs are an investment in your company’s most important resource, your workers. Studies have shown that workers are more likely to be on the job and performing well when they are in feeling well both physically and mentally. Workers are also more likely to be attracted to, remain with, and appreciate a employer that values them. Corporate wellness programs improve company productivity by:
- Attracting superior quality staff;
- Reducing the rate of absenteeism and time lost;
- Enhancing on-the-job time utilization and decision making; and
- Improving worker morale, which in turn lowers turnover.
In addition to improved productivity, corporate wellness programs have been shown to be an effective tool in slowing the growth of health care costs. Selecting healthier options may reduce an worker’s chances of suffering from illness. Less illness means businesses can lower health plan utilization, thereby lowering health benefit costs, and consequently increasing earnings. While health cost savings from corporate wellness programs may be less evident than productivity gains, research shows that medically high-risk workers are medically high-cost workers as they use additional health care and generate higher claims.
Finally, by investing in corporate wellness programs , businesses will be helping the United States achieve its two major Healthy People 2010 worksite objectives:
- 75% of all employers, regardless of size, providing wide reaching corporate wellness programs; and
- 75% of all a company’s staff participating in employer-sponsored corporate wellness programs.
Best Practices When Creating corporate wellness programs
WELCOA, an organization committed to corporate wellness programs, has identified the seven best practices (“The Seven C’s”) for businesses to follow when creating a comprehensive, effective corporate wellness programs within their corporation.
- Capture senior-level support. Approval from senior management is critical to the success of all corporate wellness programs. Management has to understand the benefits of the program for both the staff and the corporation and be willing to fund its development, implementation and evaluation. Descriptions of what other businesses are doing in the way of corporate wellness programs and linking wellness to goals of the business, values and strategic priorities will help to secure senior management support. Department Heads who “practice what they preach” and actively participate in the corporate wellness programs will go a long way to encouraging others to participate as well.
- Establish a health promotion team. Health promotion committees should include a variety of possible initiative participants including workers. Your team should include individuals who will be part of creating the corporate wellness programs, implementing the wellness initiative and evaluating the corporate wellness programs. This creates ownership of the wellness initiative and will likely lead to more innovative ideas. A health promotion team will help to garner “buy in” from both management and the participants, develop corporate wellness programs that are responsive to all participant needs, and will be responsible for managing all of the company’s health promotion efforts.
- Collect information that will drive your corporate wellness programs. Once your wellness team is in place and management is on board, it is time to gather baseline information to help assess staff wellness interests and health risks. The results of your data collection will assist you in what kind of wellness initiatives to provide. This process may involve a survey of staff interest in various corporate wellness programs, health risk assessments, and claims review to determine current staff disease risk.
- Develop a yearly operating plan. For your corporate wellness programs to work, you must have a goal. A yearly operating plan should include a mission statement for the health promotion program in addition to specific, measurable short-and long-term goals and objectives. Your corporate wellness programs are more likely to be successful if they are linked to one or more of the company’s strategic plans, as it will have a better chance of retaining the support of the powers that be throughout the installation process. A written plan also provides continuity when members of the health promotion team change and is important in holding the team accountable to the goals, objectives, and timeline agreed upon.
- Choose appropriate health initiatives. The health initiatives that you choose should flow naturally from your data (questionnaire, Health Risk Appraisal aggregate report, claims) to goals and objectives. They should address current risk factors in your employee population and be in line with what both executive management and workers want from the corporate wellness programs.
- Develop a supportive atmosphere. A supportive atmosphere provides workers with praise, ample opportunity to participate in corporate wellness programs, and rewards. A culture of wellness that stands behind wellness programs might have such features as healthy food choices in their vending machines, may not allow smoking or tobacco products and flex-time that allow workers to workout. A employer that values wellness will applaud and praise wellness achievements and have a executive team that models healthy behavior. Most importantly, a atmosphere of wellness involves workers in every part of the corporate wellness programs from their design and promotion to their implementation and review.
- Consistently assess your corporate wellness programs outcomes. Evaluation involves taking a close look at your goals and objectives and deciding if you attained your desired result. Evaluation allows you applaud goals that have been attained and to stop or change ineffective initiatives.