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Building a Successful Workplace Wellness Program
Richard King

An effective workplace wellness program is a great way for companies to demonstrate that they value their workforce. In addition, it can help create a more engaged and productive workforce, reduce a companyís overall healthcare costs, and strengthen team spirit among employees.

Wellness is not just about physical wellbeing but also covers mental and emotional health. Programs can incorporate a wide range of activities, from physical fitness sessions, to quit smoking programs, blood pressure testing, and stress management workshops. What you choose to offer will depend on various factors, such as the size of your workforce, the industry you operate in, and the resources your company has to devote to the program.

Whether you decide to engage a third-party operator to deliver the program or run it using company resources, another major consideration should be gathering opinions from your employees about the types of services they want to see in a wellness program. After all, they will take the decision whether or not to make use of the program, so it is important that it meets their expectations.

Making the program convenient

The fast-paced environment of modern-day business places greater demands on our time and abilities. Bear this in mind when designing your wellness program and aim to come up with a package that makes it as convenient as possible for your staff to get involved.

One way to do this is to make the joining process easy. Try to avoid asking potential participants to fill out lengthy forms or provide large quantities of information up front. If a specific aspect of the program, like blood pressure testing, requires more details about an individual's diet and lifestyle, request this information when your wellness program is up and running. By taking this approach, workers are less likely to be put off by the need to spend a lot of time just on the registration process.

Ease of access to the program's benefits is also crucial. For instance, if you want to promote a culture of healthy eating in the office, why not introduce healthy vending machines in your building with snacks like hummus, nuts, and salads? Your workforce will be more likely to take advantage of these options if they don't have to go out of their way to find them.

Another way to promote engagement in your program is to keep it simple. Employees are more likely to opt in if they are given a small number of items to choose from rather than a long and complicated list. For example, you may decide that you want to focus your program on managing stress levels in the workforce and offer choices like a workshop, tips on avoiding sleep deprivation, and a weekly physical activity.

The program's attractiveness and convenience will also be improved if you offer incentives to your staff to participate. You could choose to make these benefits financial in nature or link them to the idea of wellness, such as by offering free spa days or exercise sessions at a local gym for workers who perform well.

Using wearables

Wearable technology allows you to monitor the progress of your wellness program and respond to staff habits. If you decide to issue a wearable to every participant in your wellness program, they can also act as a great incentive. Modern fitness checkers often include a watch or other useful features and make a cool fashion accessory.

You can easily link the wearables to your main wellness program portal, allowing you to monitor participation rates in certain activities and the impact the program has over the long-term on your employees' health and wellbeing. The information will also help when it comes to setting individual fitness goals and checking progress towards them.

With the data, you can take control of your wellness program and make changes if you spot problem areas. For instance, if you offer three physical activity programs but notice that participants are not regularly attending one of them, you could consider changing the type of fitness or exercise class on offer.

Personalizing the wellness program

Combining easy to access wellness activities with the latest technology will enable your company to personalize your program. This is important because staff members will be more enthusiastic about joining if they feel the program is tailored to meet their needs, and if it responds to their preferences.

Providing your employees with one-on-one consultations, whether on their regular exercise routine or mental health, will go a long way to personalizing the wellness program. While this may add an additional expense to the program, your staff will benefit from the individualized approach and be able to have more control over their wellness plan.

Personalization also means ensuring the program is flexible to accommodate your staff. If your employees are working long hours under pressure, for example, it's unlikely that activities planned outside of office hours will get a strong response. A better idea would be to provide an exercise area in the office or a workshop during the workday to give staff a break from the desk and a chance to focus on their wellbeing, whether physical or mental.

Flexibility also demands that you create a program to include everyone. Even if a group of your employees want to join the same yoga class as part of your wellness program, each group member will have their own idea of success and participate at their own level of ability. The program needs to take this in to account, such as by rewarding employees for the amount of progress they have made personally, rather than in comparison to others.

Team building

A final factor to consider when putting together your company's new wellness program is how it can benefit team building and overall staff morale.

One way to do this is to take one of the activities offered as part of your wellness program and set weekly or monthly challenges. This could possibly include dividing your workforce into their departments so there can be a bit of friendly competition between different parts of the company, or you could put together teams if you're aiming to break down barriers between different areas of your business.

Regardless of the type of wellness program you run, integrating team building elements can provide a great boost to the wellness of your employees. Workers who are part of stronger teams will have better social support networks and more effective relationships at work. This not only is likely to make your workplace more productive but will contribute to emotional wellness among your employees.

Activities you could consider implementing to achieve these goals include volunteering, so your staff can take time out of work to do some good for the community, or a memory wall, which allows employees to share their favourite memories on a bulletin board.

Build it to last

A well-crafted wellness program is easy for employees to join, tailored to their individual needs, and geared towards building a positive and cooperative working environment. By listening to your workforce's expectations and establishing a program that compliments rather than extends the busy work schedule, you can put in place a framework for your employees to grow both professionally and personally.

All of this ultimately depends on you taking a serious approach to wellness. A top-quality wellness program should be seen as one of your company's key assets, which can give you the edge over your competitors when it comes to attracting new talent, improving productivity, and building a strong collaborative unit for the long haul.

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