As the science behind Employee Wellness Programs continues to evolve, so will
the need to clearly define the dimensions of a comprehensive model of Employee
Wellness Programs. A representative model includes the following components;
health education initiatives, staff member health services and benefits, physical
fitness and nutrition initiatives, Employee Wellness Plan policies and procedures,
counseling and employee assistance programs, a safe and healthy work environment,
and the integration of company and community resources.
A comprehensive approach to Employee Wellness Programs will maximize the impact
of all interventions by increasing communication between administrators, employees,
and staff member families, while encouraging the adoption of a healthy worksite
climate and culture. Philosophically, this model supports the ideals of staff
member wellness and optimal health by encouraging worksites to go beyond initiatives
designed to only reduce health care costs, prevent disease, or maintain health.
A key factor in the utility of this model is the integration and overlap of
responsibilities for Employee Wellness Programs by various departments and individuals
inside and outside the company. As the structure of the workplace continues
to change, in the future this dynamic model can be used to evaluate and plan
for Employee Wellness Programs that are truly comprehensive in nature.
A Comprehensive Model For Employee Wellness Programs
According to the National Survey of Worksite Health Promotion Activities (1992)
81 percent of organizations in the U.S. with 50 or more employees have some
form of Employee Wellness Programs activity. This result puts us in proximity
of the Healthy People 2000 (1990) objective of 85% by the year 2000. Why are
employers getting into the corporation of Employee Wellness Programs? The three
most common reasons cited for employer interest in Employee Wellness Programs
are the desire to control spiraling health care costs, to encourage a healthy
productive work force, and as a method of boosting the morale of employees and
the image of the company (O’Donnell, 1994).
As the motivations behind Employee Wellness Programs differ, so do the extent
of a Employee Wellness Programs efforts. A program may consist of distributing
the occasional health pamphlet on the warning signs of cancer to employees,
or it may comprise an elaborate and strategically planned Employee Wellness
Plan targeted to the specific needs of a company and its employees. Research
indicates (O’Donnel & Harris, 1994) that some Employee Wellness Programs
have been more effective than others in improving health status, but what would
a truly comprehensive model of Employee Wellness Programs consist of?
Imagine yourself working for the healthiest corporation possible. What characteristics
or Employee Wellness Plan strategies would make that organization so healthy?
Examine it from a holistic perspective. What does that corporation do to enhance
the spiritual, emotional, social, physical and intellectual aspects of staff
member health? How does that corporation develop effective health policies and
relevant programs that impact all employees? Finally, how does that corporation
demonstrate its belief that workers are the corporation’s most valued asset?
It is unlikely that any one component of a Employee Wellness Plan will be responsible
for the positive health outcomes of all employees. Employee Wellness Plan have
evolved from the occasional fitness facility for the exclusive use of corporation
executives, or the sporadic staff member safety program, to a wide range of
health enhancing services and initiatives. Employee Wellness Plan consultants
often speak of the importance of cultural change and the need to institutionalize
Employee Wellness Programs in today’s workplace. This goal can only occur through
a comprehensive and integrated approach that impacts on workers through numerous