Before you begin planning your Wellness Program you need to know where you are now and then decide where you want to go. Completing a thorough needs assessment is vital to the success of your wellness program for two reasons –
First it ensures that your program activities will be targeted to meet your corporation’s specific needs so that outcomes can be achieved.
Secondly the needs assessment provides the information you will need to evaluate the effectiveness of your wellness program.
It’s often tempting to rush the assessment – specifically when time is limited or those with experience already have an idea of needs. Do not give in to this temptation!
It’s crucial to understand what your company needs are, what management expects, and what employees want as well as expect, before you develop a program.
Consider and gather data on –
Health Risk Factors
Injury Rates and Causes
Workers’ Compensation Claims
Short and Long Term Disability Claims
Worker perceived needs and health risks
Management expectations or desired outcomes
There are many ways to assess this information. Although some of data collecting process might be time eating, remember that it is however essential to plan programs that target specific issues.
This information will be vital to set objectives and for evaluating program success. How else can you know if outcomes have been achieved?
Options to help gather the wellness program information –
Confidential Health Risk (Assessment|Appraisal}s with a Company Group Summary Report click here for more information on Health Risk (Assessment|Appraisal}s or Assessments
Medical Screenings like cholesterol, blood pressure (BP) and blood sugar click here for more information on biometric testings.
Employee Needs and Interest Surveys
Suggestion boxes placed around the organization
Focus Groups or hosting a luncheon meeting as a focus group
Sending out a confidential email questionnaire
Review records and databases including OSHA logs, first aid reports, insurance costs
Once your needs assessment is complete, the Wellness Committee can review the results and start planning and prioritizing program options.
Planning ought to be based on objectives and identified outcomes, Step 4 of the seven step process!
August 30, 2010 No Comments
Establishing an active Wellness Committee provides opportunities for both management and worker involvement in the program. The Committee should be a team of employees and managers who formally meet to plan activities to promote healthier worker lifestyles.
Typical Functions of a Wellness Committee –
Reviewing needs and interests
Brainstorming program ideas
Developing communication plans
Promoting programs to peers
Serving as champions of the Wellness Programs
Helping with analysis
Your Wellness Committee should be representative of all levels of the business. Consider all areas of the workforce – multiple sites, shift workers, diversity (race, gender, ethnicity), and departments.
It’s also important to consider who’ll chair or co-chair the Wellness Committee and whether or not there are the finances to support a wellness manager or occupational health expert, even on a part-time or contractual basis. Click here for additional information on the advantages of a health expert.
Depending on your company size and resources, if you already have a company Safety Committee you might want to consider making it the Safety and Wellness Committee. You can request volunteers or invite employees to participate.
The number of Wellness Committee members depends on the size of your company; nevertheless, you need enough members to get the work done and yet not too many to keep it manageable, usually a minimum of 4 members and maximum of 12 to 15 members.
It’s important to include skeptics of wellness as well and not just those employees already practicing healthful lifestyles.
Depending on your worksite, consider representatives from the following areas –
Staff Member representatives from a cross section of different departments,
Health and safety expert(s),
Human resources specialist(s),
Benefits staff or someone from finance,
Your staff member assistance program (EAP) provider (if applicable), Click here for additional information on EAPs
Medical or occupational health staff (if applicable).
Establish an effective Wellness Committee! the Wellness Committee should meet regularly with a planned agenda and action items. Successful Wellness Committees have a shared mission, vision and objectives.
Members need to believe that their participation is worthwhile and appreciated, that their work is important, benefits the organization and coworkers, and they are recognized for their contributions. Refer to the NC Workplace Programs section for examples of what other businesses have implemented.
August 29, 2010 No Comments
As with any program, the two critical elements for the success of your wellness program are upper management support and worker involvement. Upper-level management sets the vision and provides the resources from which action plans flow.
Genuine support from senior personnel also lends credibility to the wellness program. It’s key that senior management be visible supporters and role models for your Wellness Program.
Workers need to be involved on several levels so that they feel ownership of the wellness program. Workers are the program stakeholders!
All staff members should’ve an opportunity to provide input and feedback through needs and interest surveys and program analysis tools. The information gathered must be used to plan programs that target those needs and interests to ensure participation, buy-in, and support.
There are several methods to identify staff member needs and interests such as –
Conducting Worker Focus Groups
Discussing Wellness Interests During Department Meetings
Distributing and Summarizing a Needs and Interest Survey
Including an Opportunity to Give Suggestions on Each Analysis Tool
Any one or combination of a few techniques will ensure that the wellness program meets what workers want. Click here for a sample Needs and Interest Survey.
Step 3 provides additional information on deciding wellness program needs. But first, establishing a Wellness Committee can help you involve management and staff members, determine need, and plan your wellness program.
August 28, 2010 No Comments
Wellness Program Step 1 – Be sure to set the Foundation –
Build Support Among All Levels of the Organization
A key to a successful Wellness Program requires management commitment and staff member involvement.
Wellness Program Step 2 – Form a Wellness Committee
An active Wellness Committee ensures worker involvement, provides buy-in, management support, and maintains a crew that is ready to act to integrate wellness programs.
Wellness Program Step 3 – Gather Data to Identify Key Needs and Expectations
The next critical component is to base the Wellness Program on the needs and interests of your corporation and its workers.
Wellness Program Step 4 – Establish Goals and Objectives
Objectives and goals are the road maps to guide you where your program needs to go. These are the foundation for planning and assessing activities to ensure that your wellness program is going to meet your unique needs.
Wellness Program Step 5 – Create a Detailed Action Plan
There’s no such thing as over planning! the best of intentions can get lost, overstepped, or forgotten without adequate planning, and then it would be all for naught.
Wellness Program Step 6 – Pick and Implement a Plan
Armed with the needs assessment information, a Wellness Committee, and goals and goals, it’s now time to put your plan into action!
Wellness Program Step 7 – Monitor and Evaluate Your Wellness Program
Analysis is a necessary step to keep a program on target, in addition to to ensure that the program is reaching its goals or achieving the desired results.
These Seven Steps outline considerations for a comprehensive approach to establish an effective wellness program. Are you able to implement components of wellness activities without following these steps?
Definitely, but you could not have the sustainability or ability to obtain desired outcomes. Following the Seven Steps does not have to be complicated or burdensome. A very simple approach can achieve a successful wellness program!
Accordingly, to ensure a successful wellness program consider the key components as you plan your program or improve your current program –
Upper-Level Management Support and Staff Member Involvement
Active Wellness Committee
Program is Based on Staff Member Needs and Interests
Objectives and Objectives are Established
Detailed Action Plan Based on Resources and Budget
Program Implementation and Internal Marketing
Analysis of Outcomes and Program
August 27, 2010 No Comments
The program design options depend on the goals and desired outcomes of your program. When your goal is to help staff members change behavior, reduce risk factors, or save healthcare dollars then your wellness program would be designed to accomplish those outcomes and a budget would be necessary to support that design.
There are different wellness program design levels depending on desired outcomes and budgets. Each level has advantages and disadvantages. The intentions or results are quite different, aren’t interchangeable in terms of obtaining the same results, and consequently shouldn’t be confused.
For instance, scheduling activities such as an staff member wellness fair or lunchtime education sessions, or having pamphlets available do not normally lead to behavior change, but may increase awareness on a topic.
If the goal is behavior change then a different design is required, such as Lifestyle/Behavior Change Programs and Organizational Support. The outline below describes the wellness design levels with a brief explanation.
Awareness Programs – at this level a company makes health information available and accessible to employees. This kind of program can include brochures on a variety of topics, wellness articles in newsletters, bulletin board displays, e-mail health messages, etc.
Additionally, most health fairs are designed as awareness programs with providers providing information and providing biometric testings to employees.
Awareness programs are cheap and do not require robust worker or corporation time commitments. Notwithstanding, these programs do not usually lead to healthier behavior change.
Increasing awareness is not generally enough to generate lifestyle changes for most person, unless used to motivate staff members to register for a program being offered at the corporation or community on the topic.
An example of this would be providing information on the harmful effects of tobacco use and inviting employees who smoke to register for a tobacco use cessation class.
Education Programs – Educational programs often provide more information on a topic and can also provide time for questions and answers, but are similar to awareness programs. An example is lunch-n-learn sessions on a health related topic.
These cost the company a little more than awareness programs; nevertheless, they’re still cheap and do not require a excellent deal of time for planning or attending a session.
Again, increasing awareness and providing information may not lead to the desired behavior change unless ongoing support or incentives are also planned.
Lifestyle/Behavior Change Programs – These programs are designed as 4 to 12 weekly sessions or workshops to provide wellness education, address barriers and provide opportunities to practice the desired skills.
Behavior change programs as a result require more business resources, cost more, and also require more employee commitment, time and effort. The results are often the desired positive lifestyle change, which when sustained can lead to potential cost savings.
Examples are tobacco use cessation classes, weight loss and weight management meetings, or an ongoing fitness program.
Environmental and Organizational Support – Environmental support is often considered the highest and most vital level to include when designing your wellness program in order to support and maintain healthy behaviors.
These types of design options include policy changes such as –
Creating a smoke-free workplace
Designating a walking path,
Establishing on-site health clubs,
Ensuring healthful vending machine selections,
Offering healthful food choices in the cafeteria, and/or
Establishing flex-time policies.
Other examples include subsidizing healthy vending machines or cafeteria choices; reimbursing fitness club or weight loss and weight control program memberships; or providing insurance incentives for healthy behaviors.
Ideally, the wellness program design would include some of all of these choices. The more comprehensive and integrated the approach, the more successful the results will be. For instance, a business can –
have smoking cessation information available;
can schedule a one hour awareness session on the harmful effects of use of tobacco and how to quit;
can implement an onsite smoking cessation program,
supply self quit smoking kits, or
support staff members to attend a community program; and/or
on an environmental support level can establish a tobacco-free workplace and grounds,
offer lower insurance premiums for non-smokers, or
provide pharmacological quit smoke aids for free.
Wellness Program – Components for Success
There are a few key components or elements that should be considered to ensure the success of your Wellness Program or wellness program. These include –
Executive Management Support and Staff Member Involvement
Active Wellness Committee
Program is Based on Employee Needs and Interests
Goals and Goals are Established
Detailed Action Plan Based on Resources and Budget
Program Implementation and Internal Advertising
Investigation of Outcomes and Program
August 26, 2010 No Comments
Major advantages of healthy employees include –
Lower Health Care Costs
Increased Morale and Loyalty
Lowered Use of Health Care Benefits
Lowered Workers’ Compensation / Disability
Positive Perception in Community
Better recruitment for skilled employees
What’s NOT having a Wellness Program costing your company?
Consider the health risk factors that are increasing chronic illnesss for adults –
59 percent of adults are overweight or obese
More than 60% of American adults do not exercise regularly
More than 75% of adults do not consume the minimum recommendations for fruits and vegetables
Heart disease is the most common cause of death and the leading cause of death in smokers
26% of employees reported they were often or very often burned out or stressed by their work
Health Care Costs are Increasing – Health Care costs are at a record high of $1.7 trillion with no signs of holding steady let alone decreasing. The typical cost of annual healthcare spending is over $5,000 per individuals and with dependents almost $10,000.
Recent data shows that health care related expenses now cost North Carolina companies thousands of dollars per worker, per year.
Most Illnesses can be Prevented – Although it sounds unbelievable, experts indicate that avoidable disease makes up 60% – 70% of the entire burden of disease in the U.S.
In North Carolina, it is estimated that more than 53% of all deaths are preventable, and that 2/3 of all avoidable deaths are due to tobacco use, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition.
Stress Levels are Increasing – as business resources become less and businesses adopt leaner work practices, the effects of absenteeism and productivity lost have a greater impact.
In a recent national poll, 78 percent of American Citizens described their jobs as stressful, and the majority felt that stress levels have become worse over the last 10 years. Furthermore, high levels of organizational stress can adversely affect a business by increasing injuries, absenteeism, and health care costs while reducing productivity.
Simple solutions such as stress management education, flexible work schedules, quality social interaction, and increased participation in business decision-making can improve stress levels in the workplace.
What is the Upfront Cost and Time Investment for a Wellness Program?
The cost depends on the type of Wellness Program implemented. There are a few choices to promote employee health with advantages and disadvantages of each. The program design depends on the goals of the wellness program, the corporation resources, and the community resources available.
Improving dietary practices, increasing exercise levels, managing stress or addressing work life balance issues, and reducing/eliminating tobacco use, are primary strategies for preventing many of the most common avoidable chronic illnesss.
The possibilities of how your business addresses these issues are endless and can range from increasing employee awareness, which can include buying several brochures on a selection of topics, and measuring walking distances around your facility.
Other possibilities include establishing organizational support such as funding a fulltime occupational health expert or building an onsite fitness center.
When well planned and based on your objectives, any of these programs can help you succeed. Refer below to Wellness Program Design Options for additional ideas.
August 25, 2010 No Comments
A Wellness Program is an organized program to assist and support staff members in establishing healthier lifestyles. This can include increasing worker awareness on health topics, scheduling behavior change programs, and/or establishing corporation policies that support health-related objectives.
Programs and policies that promote increased physical activity, smoking prevention and cessation, and healthy food selections are several examples.
Dimensions of Wellness
Wellness is more than fitness. In addition to fitness, the dimensions of optimal health include
These dimensions are often depicted as a “life wheel” with examples of health components that include –
purpose in life,
social connections and support systems,
career planning and
The key for individual health is keeping the “life wheel” in balance. A robust wellness program addresses most, when not all, of these dimensions.
Why Corporate Wellness?
Staff Members spend a excellent deal of time on the job, and the fact is that our traditional work-week is increasing. In fact, the average American now works about 47 hours per week.
Plus, technologies like modems, laptops, cellular phones, voice and email have blurred the work-life boundary. These realities lower the amount of time that the typical individual can devote to wellness pursuits, and yet staff members are expected to be at top performance when at work.
A recent published study by the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses found that corporate wellness or wellness programs are successful in helping workers make positive health changes due to several factors like convenience, environmental support, and peer or social acceptance.
What’s the Link between Wellness and the Workplace?
Programs and policies that promote healthy behaviors may make a big difference on worker wellness AND have an impact on the corporation’s bottom line. Studies have shown that for every dollar invested by businesss in corporate wellness/wellness programs, there were savings ranging from $1.49 to $4.91 with a median savings of $3.14*.
In company terms, that’s more than a 3 – 1 minimum return on investment – a number that is hard to ignore, and a best practice that should warrant serious consideration from companies.
Indeed, a corporate wellness literature review posted in Wellness Practitioner Journal found –
19 studies found a 28.3% reduction in sick time
16 studies demonstrated a 5.6 – 1 return on investment
23 showed a 26.1 percent reduction in healthcare costs
4 found a 30% reduction in direct medical and workers’ compensation claims
There is little doubt that a extensive wellness program targeted to meet a corporation’s specific needs can save money by lowering absenteeism, lowering health care expenditures, lowering employee turnover, and increasing productivity.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2003
August 24, 2010 No Comments
Ten Steps Toward Strategic Wellness Programs
The Wellness Program management world is evolving quickly. Each month, there are new research findings that support the premise that Wellness Programs and disease management have a long-term impact on health care costs.
Many large businesses that started Wellness Programs three to five years ago are showing savings in health, disability, and workers compensation costs. Small to mid-size businesses are watching all this and wondering where to begin with wellness.
Getting executive management support and budget approval is one of the challenges at the beginning of a Wellness Program. This is the case because Wellness Programs can be expensive, averaging $150-300 per staff member per year in large companies.
Most of the savings aren’t realized for a number of years. This long-term investing is hard for companies on the move.
The key to success for Wellness Programs is to take a strategic approach. Here are ten steps to consider when beginning a Wellness Program.
1. Start with senior management. Without senior management support, a wellness strategy can fall flat. Start with the health of your executive team and discover your wellness champions at the top of the organization.
2. Analyze the problem. Look at your healthcare claims and analyze the trends. Which conditions are driving your medical, disability, and workers’ compensation claims and which are modifiable? What’s worked and what has not as a result far? What’s the long-term impact of doing nothing?
3. Hold an initial wellness meeting. Invite your key stakeholders both inside and outside the business. Ask your broker to facilitate the meeting and invite key health providers including health, disability, Employee Assistance Program (EAP), fitness, and occupational nursing.
Review claims and utilization data and identify key areas of concern. Look at current offerings and see how they are able to be tailored to the needs of the population.
4. Consider both healthy and unhealthy employees. Since 85% of claims are typically attributed to 15% of claimants, it’s essential to reach those with the most expensive conditions while also reaching people who are at risk for developing preventable illnesses in the future.
Voluntary wellness programs such as lunchtime wellness seminars miss many of the individuals who need them most. Consider programs that are population-wide or target intact workgroups. Wellness incentives help but do not motivate everybody.
5. Make certain to set short-term objectives for the wellness programs. Make certain to set some realistic short-term objectives based on your key areas of concern. Are there any plan design changes that could have an immediate impact on spending? Are there some programmatic actions that could have immediate results?
6. Find out what staff members are thinking. Hold some focus groups to determine where people are with wellness. What’s working? What isn’t? How much interest do people have in the Wellness Programs? What obstacles and barriers are staff members experiencing when they attempt to change behavior?
7. Be certain you’ve a high-impact Staff Member Assistance Program (EAP). Your first wellness dollars ought to go into upgrading your Staff Member Assistance Program (EAP). A highly utilized Staff Member Assistance Program (EAP) can provide a foundation for all of your future wellness activities.
A good Staff Member Assistance Program (EAP) is a trusted link to the hearts and minds of staff members. at no additional cost, the Staff Member Assistance Program (EAP) can provide needed follow-up coaching and personal attention for staff members who are working on modifiable health behaviors or involved in disease management (DM) programs.
Nutritionists, fitness, pregnancy, and stress management experts are all part of a high-value Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
8. Be certain to set three to five year goals for health care savings and measure them. Get help from your broker and insurance carrier help you on long-term goals for your health, disability, and staff members compensation plans.
Establish program metrics that’ll help you to measure ROI. Go beyond participation rates, completion rates and program satisfaction. Measure changes in readiness, changes in behavior, and changes in risk factors. Establish rigorous methods to measure health care savings over the long term.
9. Make sure to set goals for organizational health. Consider the more intangible benefits of a wellness program and quantify them whenever possible. Include staff member turnover rates, cost of new hires, staff member morale, benefit satisfaction data, and employer of option issues in establishing goals. Establish ways to measure success in these areas.
10. Add specifics to your short and long-term plan. Include a program strategy, a communication strategy, and an incentive strategy that’ll fit with your corporate culture. Focus on integration of related components along a health continuum with communications that are focused, simple, and human.
Establish a budget that includes key components such as consumer education, wellness, health risk (assessment|appraisal}s, and regular biometric screens.
August 23, 2010 No Comments
Wellness Programs are vital to improving the health of our nations. Most adults spend more of their waking hours at work than anywhere else, making it a great venue for promoting healthy habits.
The worksite organizational culture and environment are powerful influences on behavior and this needs to be put to use as a means of helping staff members to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Benefits to Wellness Programs include –
Lower levels of stress
Increased well-being, self-image and self-esteem
Businesss can also benefit from Wellness Programs. According to recent research, employers’ benefits are –
Enhanced recruitment and retention of healthful employees
Lowered health care costs
Lowered rates of illness and injuries
Decreased worker absenteeism
Improved staff member relations and morale
A USA Department of Health and Human Services report revealed that at worksites with physical activity programs as components of their Wellness Programs have –
Reduced health care costs by 20 to 55%
Reduced short-term sick leave by six to 32%
Increased productivity by two to 52 percent
Thanks to modern medicine, life expectancy for American Citizens has continually increased. How much we enjoy these additional years, nevertheless, depends greatly on how we have lived our lives.
When our quality of life is to remain high so that we can fully enjoy these additional years, we must practice good consuming habits, be active and refrain from using tobacco products.
August 22, 2010 No Comments
Who needs Wellness Programs? When you work in an office or a jobsite or are a member of an organization who spends a considerable amount of time at work, you’ll benefit from a well-designed worker wellness program. Workers spend a minimum of about 200 hours a month at work – a considerable amount of time.
Further, stress, distractions and the pressures of the job can take its toll on the employee, which makes it important that a wellness program is implemented.
Today, all across America, Canada, Europe and Asia, top corporate Wellness Programs are being used to help improve worker conditions at work and reduce the cost of worker health care.
Some of the top Wellness Programs currently in use today include –
Wellness Programs – Health Risk (Assessment|Appraisal}s (HRAs)
Health Risk (Assessment|Appraisal} is a top Wellness Program currently in use globally. Organizations that start it determine the safety and health concerns of workers by the assessment of appropriateness of the facilities and equipment against the needs of the workers.
It can, for instance, guide the organization into determining how much air quality within an office room affects the users and then help the assessment team to come up with the measures necessary to correct the problem.
An HRA can also evaluate the level of exposure staff members have to certain hazardous or hazardous materials and practices.
Wellness Programs – Immunizations.
This is not always practiced in every country since there are regions where government sponsored immunization shots are available. Nevertheless, it has also become an important component of the top Wellness Programs in many organizations in North America.
Immunization shots, like those used to combat flu, for example, are offered to workers for free.
Staff Member Assistance Programs (EAPs)
Worker Assistance Programs (EAPs) consist of a wide variety of services. It can range from providing educational resources to employees regarding health issues to sponsoring health services and medical care. In many corporations, medical and insurance have also become a staple part of their benefits system.
Weight Management Programs
This is another wellness program that organizations use, namely those that offer in-house commissary or cafeteria services. Instead of serving richer, high-calorie fare, cafeterias offer options for a healthier diet, ordinarily in the form of low-calorie foods and sugar substitutes.
Worker Wellness Newsletters – Health Education Programs
One of the top Wellness Programs that organizations can start is a self-powered tool using a newsletter to promote wellness, coupled with a visible campaign.
The campaign might be done periodically and focus on a specific topic, such as use of tobacco hazards, cancer, stress, carpal tunnel syndrome, safety in the workplace, etc.
The newsletter in itself may be an effective means to deliver information to staff members or members of an organization but it is far from perfect. Some staff members, for instance, may not read the newsletter in its entirety or even pay attention to it.
If the issues outlined in the newsletter are promoted through an active and highly visible campaign, it will be easier to maximize positive results.
Physical Fitness and Exercise Plans
Another top wellness program for organizations is one that involves physical activities. Companies often sponsor exercise-related events like marathons and business sports programs to encourage workers to remain fit or lose excess weight. In mid- to large-sized organizations, corporations may even pay for gym memberships or in-house exercise facilities.
Wellness Program Incentives.
Some of the top Wellness Programs implemented by companies involve incentive rewards. This involves company-sponsored programs that reward staff members for achieving specific wellness objectives.
Participation in health campaigns and signing up for Wellness Programs are two of the most widely rewarded schemes. Rewards can range from special recognitions to points (for larger rewards) to specific gifts. In a few cases, cash might also be used.
Nevertheless, incentive systems have had mixed reactions and levels of success. But it continues to be one of the top choices among companies who are willing to modify it to fit their unique needs.
Wellness Programs – Group Activities
In many organizations, corporations take advantage of colleague pressure to encourage workers to participate in Wellness Programs. This is currently among the favorite employee Wellness Programs currently in use today and growing in popularity.
Coworker pressure is often leveraged to help promote competitions referring to corporate wellness and to persuade employees to be active in company-sponsored health fairs.
August 21, 2010 No Comments