Eye on Sustainability: Creating Wellness Programs

Published Thursday, April 14, 2011 5:39 PM

Want more productive employees and less absenteeism? How about greater workplace efficiencies and reduced long-term health care costs? Invest in a wellness program now and reap the benefits of a happier, healthier workforce.

Programs Needn't be Costly or Cumbersome

Wondering how your company will find the time to create and manage a wellness program? Programs can be outsourced to outside service providers and managed by your HR department or, in smaller companies, a wellness program can be as simple as providing fresh fruit in the break room or a paid day off for doctor's visits.

Or consider empowering a group of employees to form a committee to oversee wellness efforts. Take a survey assessing employees' interests and needs, use it to guide your efforts. Wellness programs can be incorporated into every workplace, no matter the size or budget, the only limit is your creativity so read on for ideas on how to start.

Getting Started

Create an environment that promotes good health for all employees. A number of factors contribute to good health including exercise, diet and healthy lifestyle choices. Wellness programs shouldn't simply focus on one factor such as smoking cessation or losing weight. Instead try to include a range of programming that impacts all employees.

Offer incentives for participation and milestones. Rewards don't need to be costly. Sometimes public recognition is enough. Or consider offering gift certificates or bonus days off for meeting certain milestones. Rewards can be extremely motivating!

Have employees work as a group. The buddy system is an effective motivator. Create a lunch group that walks together or an after-hours exercise class. Professional coaches such as nutritionist or exercise teachers can motivate a group. Have teams or departments compete for progress.

Looking for more ideas? Promote dollar-smart preventative care by offering flu vaccines at work or by reimbursing employees for vaccination fees. Host a "speakers series" at lunch time of experts with tips on cooking healthy meals, staying healthy while travelling, or offering stress management skills. 

Consider bringing in yoga, tai chi, or aerobics instructors for lunchtime classes. Provide healthy snacks in the break room and vending machines and make work lunches heart-healthy and low-cal.

Remember, wellness programs pay rich dividends in a healthy, happy, productive workforce.


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