Do you have a wellness program where you work? Maybe you’re not even sure. Or you might have a program—but you haven’t looked at it in ages. Perhaps your program is ignored or even non-existent. Each of those answers is all too common in regard to worksite wellness.
The most important part of a wellness program is that it works for you, your employees and your company. If your program is basically irrelevant, it’s not working for you.
Health and wellness are so broad, and there are millions of strategies that lead to healthy lifestyles. Wellness—especially in the workplace—is meant to be adapted to fit your needs, your employees’ needs and the needs of your organization.
That’s not to say your wellness program shouldn’t be rooted in research or that it won’t take a little work. Experts are constantly sharing and recommending health standards, and they can take a little effort to reach. In the grand scheme of things, though, how you get there is completely dependent on you.
If you’re just getting started with wellness where you work, or if you haven’t taken a look at your program in quite some time, you’ll need to make sure that what you’re doing is working for you. Here’s how you can get started.
Step 1: Ask Questions
Your program should be data-driven (and that doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds). Data-driven means that you have evidence to support the things you’re doing. In order to get that evidence, you need to ask some questions.
Ask your employees what they want. What does health mean to them? What are they already working on? What do they need some help with? All of those things are important to know so you can build a program that’s valued by your workforce.
Ask your insurance company what’s wrong. What medical services are you spending the most money on? How have those charges changed over time? These things not only provide areas of focus for your program, but can help you determine whether or not you’re actually saving money.
Ask your organization leadership to be involved. Do they have the time? Do they care about wellness? How can you work with their schedules? Leadership investment is important. A positive attitude starts from the top and trickles down through the whole workforce.
Ask your community what’s out there. Is there a community-wide wellness effort? Are there opportunities for partnerships? Wellness works best when it isn’t stuck inside the four walls of your office. Break out into the community to keep the momentum going.
Step 2: Use the Answers
There are no bad questions—that is, unless you completely ignore the answer. Every question you ask is providing you with some hint at how best to do wellness where you work.
So utilize that information! It’s valuable!
Let the evidence you’ve gathered drive your wellness program (ahem…’data-driven’). Don’t be afraid to make changes as you go. An adaptable program is a program that will stand the test of time.
Step 3: Repeat the Process
Organizations change over time. That’s completely natural, and actually very healthy. If wellness is working for you, you’ll see some changes as far as the health of your workforce as well.
That’s why it’s important to return to the questions you’ve asked on a regular basis. They can help you to see the progress you’re making, where improvements need to be made and what new opportunities exist.
I say return to the questions because that’s how you track change—by asking the same questions. You might notice a need for timely additions as you’re working through the data. It’s important, though, to have a core set of questions that stay pretty consistent. That way you’re comparing “apples to apples.”
Keep in mind that health changes take time. If you repeat your process too often, two things will probably happen:
- You’ll get really sick of asking the same questions over and over again.
- You won’t see the improvements you’re looking for as often as you’d like.
You can casually monitor your program constantly. As far as data collection, though, checking in on your questions and answers every year is a pretty standard timeframe.
Asking questions, using the answers and repeating that process will help you really get a sense of the impact your wellness program is having on your organization. Wellness needs to work for you, your employees and your company. If it’s not, it might be time to make a few changes.