Care management

How to Design a Corporate Wellness Program That Gets Results

Kanav Hasija
Tue 22 September 2020

Employers are doing everything they can to keep their employees engaged—unlimited vacation, merit-based promotions, stock option plans, etc.
Yet employee turnover is higher than ever. So what are companies missing here? Despite offering top-of-the-line benefits and establishing employee-friendly policies, they are missing something elementary and important. It is employee wellness. No matter the size or services they provide, they have to make employee wellness a top priority. It is impossible to even think of any company being successful when their employees don’t feel good about themselves or their work.
So how do you design a wellness program that’s smart, scalable, and efficient? Here is the 6-step process


1. Determine and Evaluate Employees’ Needs


Determining the needs starts with asking questions. Ask employees what they need and see how these needs align with your goals. Get information about their lifestyle and habits. Understand the challenges they face by conducting workplace surveys.


This will also help you assess the health of the workforce and determine which programs to implement. To successfully implement the wellness program, you need to understand that some employees would like to get more active while others may set targeted goals. Therefore, assess these preferences to improve participation in the program.


2. Set a Budget


Establishing a budget is a crucial step in designing the wellness program, and most organizations don’t have an unlimited budget for them. You will need to include the cost of incentives and marketing while deciding how much you can spend on the program.  


To put a number to the program, employers should consider the following:  


  • Incentives for participation
  • Promotion costs
  • Cost of the time spent on program planning
  • Wellness technology

3. Analyze the Data and Establish a Plan


Based on the budget and the needs highlighted by the survey, determine what elements will work and then take a look at a few wellness programs that will meet your requirements. Generally, wellness programs include:

  • Education programs: These programs give employees access to self-guided training so that they can follow healthy habits and work routines.
  • Community building: These programs help promote positive relationships between employees in and outside of work through company clubs or team activities such as ‘Wellness Friday’ or ‘Walk and Talk.’
  • Preventative care programs: These programs engage wellness vendors to carry out on-site health screenings or provide custom programs to check negative behaviors such as smoking.
  • Healthy habits: These programs can offer classes or devices that track fitness-related metrics to help employees get fit.

After conducting surveys and discussions, you should be able to establish a wellness program that meets your budget and employee needs.


4. Roll out the Wellness Program


The next step is to communicate the organization’s wellness program. Communication is vital to marketing the program and creating a culture of wellness. Therefore it is important to create a policy statement that includes the organization’s intent and incentive system.

Some of the ways for employers to communicate the program include:  

  • Endorsement and participation by senior management
  • Different avenues of communication such as fliers, emails, and presentations
  • Onsite health and wellness fair
  • Research-based wellness education

5. Offer Incentives to Promote Health


Building an incentive system into a wellness program is an excellent motivator. Incentives are an effective tool to drive healthy behaviors, improve participation rates, and help employees complete a program. Incentives can take many forms, including gifts or monetary awards celebrating accomplishments.  


Make wellness part of your social culture, and over time the motivation for rewards will shift from extrinsic motivation to intrinsic reinforcement. Federal and state laws may limit incentives, so employers should stay up-to-date on relevant compliance obligations.  


6. Collect Feedback for Program Improvement


As with any project, collecting feedback and evaluating the wellness program is important in sustaining employee motivation and improving new programs. You might witness trends emerge which will give insights into the way employees participate and respond to wellness initiatives. 


You will learn what is working and what is not and will make adjustments accordingly. Make sure to regularly brainstorm ideas for how to consistently improve the program. Over time, positive experiences and stories will emerge from those who participate in the program. Highlighting these stories will help attract non-participants and improve program completion rates.


Taking Wellness Programs to a New Level


There are many misconceptions about the effectiveness of wellness programs. Many employers believe that these programs don’t have any significant effect on healthcare spending. As a result, many leaders have their doubts about them while others choose options on the fly, doing their employees and their organization a disservice.  


To achieve real health improvement, the key is to decide what you value as a company and then weave it together to build wellness programs that support healthy company culture. This isn’t always easy but rewards can be huge. As employers around the world experiment with getting their employees back to offices, the leadership should act now to make sure that workplaces are productive when they return.


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