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Making Workplace Wellness a Priority: What Does It Take?

By Hallmark Business Connections | March 13, 2014 | Engage Employees

When employers make workplace wellness a priority, it can have a positive effect on both employee health and the company’s bottom line.  But, according to the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) study conducted in May 2013, the majority of employees (86%) don’t participate in wellness programs for a number of reasons, chief among them because they simply do not have the time.

So what can companies do to make workplace wellness programs a priority for employees whose time is limited?  Here are a few recommendations that can help get you started:

  • Identify the biggest health concerns for employees: In order to entice employees to participate in a wellness program, start by determining their biggest health concerns and then find ways to improve health in those areas.  SoutheastHEALTH, for example, offers health screenings to employees and then provides employers with the aggregate data so that they can figure out which areas to target in particular.  Such an approach can pay off in a big way for employees, who may be more willing to participate in wellness programs where their individual health needs are being addressed.
  • Build in time for wellness program participation: As the GCC survey indicates, there is an ever-increasing need to integrate health and wellness initiatives into the daily lives of employees.  To encourage program participation (and to make employees feel confident they can take time away from their busy schedules to focus on their health), try to get leadership support of the wellness program and lead by example.
  • Establish a sense of camaraderie: Sometimes the biggest motivator of program participation involves one little word: fun!  Wellness programs offer the chance to experience activities with colleagues that aren’t related to work, whether by participating in a walking club or sports team, by having lunch together, or by going to the gym.  By interacting with co-workers, employees can provide encouragement to others and be held accountable to their own goals.
  • Offer consistency with program events and activities: What’s the use of instituting health and wellness programs if they aren’t properly maintained?  Wellness programs should offer employees regular events and scheduled activities to keep the momentum going.  Ideas include having a health and wellness event every week (e.g., free fruit on Mondays, Wednesday walks outside the office, etc.) or even offering to sponsor employees for physical activities that may take place outside the office (e.g., marathons, charity walks, etc.).

As any company that has ever instituted a workplace wellness program knows, there’s no one way to go about establishing a health and wellness plan that will work for your company.  Be sure to consider the individual needs of your employees (and your company) to determine what your program will ultimately entail.  And remember: The key to a more productive, engaged workforce is to make employee health a priority.  So now is the time to get started!

For more information, take a look at our strategies, process, and resources associated with Wellness Engagement Programs.

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