How can you make your employee wellness program effective?
Last week we talked about ways to measure the effectiveness, but we need to know the components of effectiveness as well.
Understanding Employee Needs & Goals
First and foremost, you must understand your employees’ needs and goals in order to create a program that caters to them. Regardless of whether your goals are to reduce healthcare costs, decrease absenteeism, or something else, the program must result in changes in employee behaviors and health to achieve those other goals. Understanding employee needs provides direction for your program design. What health issues do your employees struggle with? What obstacles prevent them from reaching their health goals? Where is there room for improvement in daily habits? Gather this information and build your program around it.
If your employees can’t or don’t want to participate in your wellness program, it can’t be effective. You can’t reap the benefits without participating.
You’ve taken care of step 1 if you’ve designed a program around employee needs because Step 1 is to get employees to want to participate. The programming must appeal to them.
But wanting to participate is very different from being able to participate. If workloads are out of control, employees feel pressured to skip their breaks, or are generally overwhelmed and burned out, they will not participate. Part of planning your program is to make sure employees can actually participate in it.
Another component of the ability to participate is the inclusivity of the program. Not all employees may be able to participate or feel comfortable participating in certain activities. Take those needs into account so you can offer alternatives.
Just as you need to make participation in the program feasible, you need to make follow through on program action items as feasible as you can as well. This could mean the provision of tangibles, such a fitness trackers or food journals. It could also mean encouraging breaks or better managing workloads. Or it could mean new initiatives, like an employee walking group. Remember, because of the tremendous impact work has on our lives (we easily spend up to 30% of our time at work), the onus cannot fall solely on employees to make healthful changes.
Assess and Reassess Regularly to Make Your Employee Wellness Program Effective
Waiting until the conclusion of an employee wellness initiative to find out that it wasn’t helpful is useless. Instead, check in regularly on the effectiveness of your program so you can course correct before it’s too late.
There are many components that contribute to your ability to make your employee wellness program effective. But if you are organized, methodical, and take these factors into account, you will be able to create a more effective program.