Create a Wellness Program
An effective wellness program should address multiple health behaviors, engage staff and leadership, and establish a foundation for building and supporting wellness efforts.
The following six-step process will help organizations launch a strong wellness program and achieve desired outcomes.
Support from upper management is essential to launch an effective program. Employees must understand that management is supportive of the wellness initiative. Your executive leadership will need to:
- Designate an agency wellness coordinator.
- Ensure that senior and middle management are informed of the benefits and supportive of the wellness program.
- Ensure that appropriate policies are in place to support the program.
- Ensure that organizational resources and staff time are available for planning and implementation.
Wellness committees are an essential part of the wellness program. They share the work load of building and sustaining wellness efforts so that success does not depend on just one or two individuals. It is important that this team recruit representatives from different departments, as well as members with key skills (meeting facilitation, marketing, evaluation, etc.).
- Engage employees to ensure programming reflects demand and increases participation.
- Develop a wellness plan to guide all activities.
- Develop/Enhance wellness policies and implement changes to the work environment to improve employee health.
- Work with managers, benefit coordinators, etc., in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the program.
Conducting an employee survey provides key information for creating wellness efforts, and wellness staff should think carefully about how to best to collect different types of data. Information about what wellness activities or benefits interest employees will help ensure activities meet demand. Baseline data on the behaviors, attitudes, or health indicators the program seeks to change are equally important for documenting the program's effect and measuring outcomes months or years later. These different purposes require different types of questions, and wellness staff should consider developing different survey tools, survey groups, and data collection methods to be sure the right information is captured at the program's beginning.View a sample worksite wellness survey.
A great program begins with a great plan. A great plan defines the goals, objectives, activities, and other details that drive the wellness program. The links below provide guidance for creating a wellness plan, including a summary of points to consider and an outline template.Developing your wellness plan
Outline template for developing a wellness plan
Policy change is an essential for a strong wellness program because it creates long-term improvements to the work environment and benefits staff more than short-lived activities (fitness challenges, competitions, etc.). Wellness programs should always seek to reach policy-oriented goals, either through a primary wellness policy or multiple single-issue policies (e.g., smoking, nutrition, incentives, etc.). A good wellness policy is not a one-time project; reviewing and changing your policies to fit your staff and workplace should happen regularly. The policy may take some time, so creating short-term goals to meet the long-term goal is suggested.
Wellness policies should:
- Improve work environments and procedures to support the health and well-being of employees.
- Clarify the rules, responsibilities, and boundaries for employees engaging in wellness activities.
- Provide a framework for ongoing wellness activities.
- Be a work in progress that can always be enhanced.
Evaluation is a systematic process that should start at the beginning of a project and feature its own plan. The first step in developing your evaluation activities is to decide what you need to measure to determine the success of your program. These benchmarks are usually divided into two groups: process measures and outcome measures.
- Process measures consider the steps of implementing a program separately from the results, and identify how activities could have been done better or should change moving forward (e.g., creating a wellness committee, engaging employees, etc.).
- Outcome measures focus on the program's results and success in delivering desired changes (e.g., decreased smoking rates, decreased disability claims, etc.).
The evaluation plan should map out what data will be collected and when throughout the life of the wellness program to monitor progress and measure outcomes. Developing a logic model will help inform this process and timetable by highlighting key steps or moments in your wellness plan that require data collection. By following this approach, the evaluation plan will demonstrate not only what your wellness program achieved but why it was successful.Visit the Wellness Resources page for evaluation tools.
Visit the References Page to see references for this page.