What do all successful worksite wellness programs have in common? Is it human capital?

Let’s be perfectly clear.  Success is gauged differently by every organization and then again by each wellness practitioner.  However, there are fundamental aspects that separate the good, from the great.

It’s impossible to talk about the mastery of a wellness program design without mentioning  WELCOA’s 7 Benchmarks to Developing a Results-Oriented Wellness Program.  The articles and webinar series are definitely worth your time if you are serious about having your program impact the health or your employee population and changing your culture. You’ll learn additional perspective during the webinar series and will be reminded that there are a number of ways to personalize the approach to your organization. One size does not fit all.

Throughout my career, I have worked with companies experiencing measurable amounts of success within their wellness programs. They had all the components, characteristics, and processes in place. By the same token, I have worked with just as many who have everything in place, but aren’t enjoying any of the success. So, what is missing?  When you do a deeper dive into the organization, there are some additional things those most successful have in common:


CEO support is good… C-Suite support is better

You could have the healthiest, and fittest CEO ever.  You know the type: runner, cyclist, gym rat. They want the entire organization to feel as good as they do. They have lots of ideas and want them executed and more often than not this becomes the responsibility of the human resources department, who may or may not have an employee with the knowledge or know-how to implement a wellness program.  

There is another disconnect that is very important to identify here, too.  More often than not, the CEO hasn’t presented this idea to others in the C-Suite. Specifically, the CFO.  All successful wellness programs have a budget - we need that CFO!  


An Owner

Who is one person in your organization accountable for the wellness program?   Human resources?  If so, then who in human resources?  There must be an individual identified as the wellness program manager.

This is where you take your program from good, to better, to best.  Good is having a committee of interested employees volunteer to drive the program, better is having a person whose role includes worksite wellness responsibilities, and best would be your team having a dedicated and experienced wellness practitioner managing the program.  The most successful programs have the latter - they not only understand the correlation between employee health and productivity, but they also prioritize it.


Wellness is in their DNA

It’s who they are!  Wellness is ‘visible’ throughout the entire organization. What you see, what you hear, and how you feel reflect an environment that cares about the health and wellness of its employees and visa-versa. From the employee benefits, work schedules, and the design of the office, to vending machine options, catering policies and clear expectations.  These organizations organically attract the more health conscious applicants, too, which of course impacts medical spend.

These organizations make the healthy choice the easy choice and do wellness with and for their employees, not to their employees.

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Program is customizable for each employee

We are in an age of personalization. Offer variety and choice for employees, and thus allowing them to experience a program that makes sense for them. This increases your chances of attracting more employees to your offering.  This doesn’t have to mean partnerships with multiple vendors; choose those that put your employees in charge of how and when they use the wellness resources, and build your incentive around that, also.  


Turn off the waste

If you cannot measure the impact of your investment, don’t invest!  Additionally, participation numbers do NOT measure the impact of your investment.  This is a question that needs to be answered in the ‘design’ phase of your program.  It is much easier to ask our CFO for money every year if you can show the impact the investment made the previous years.

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