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How to Start a Wellness program

November 06, 2012
Group owner Richard Martine

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How to Start a Wellness program

By: Richard Martine   Post Date : November 06, 2012
Workplace wellness programs have been shown to improve employee health and reduce health care costs. Not all companies can afford to pay a vendor to build a turnkey wellness program for them. However, you can create a program on a tight budget by doing most of the work in-house and leveraging your benefits vendors for assistance. Here are the steps:

Form a Wellness Team. Select people from different parts of your organization. Choose people who are respected, organized, and skilled at motivating people. The team needs a leader who understands management's priorities as well as the team's mission.

Do a Needs Assessment. This has two parts:

1. Identify areas of greatest opportunity to improve health. Good sources include medical claims and health risk assessment data.

2. Find out what your employees want. Methods include online surveys, focus groups, and patterns of utilization from previous wellness offerings.

Choose Appropriate Activities. These will follow from your needs assessment. Here are a few options:

* Wellness seminars

* Biometric screenings (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.)

* Walking groups

* Smoking cessation programs

* Weight loss programs

Be sure to tap your health care vendor and other benefits vendors for assistance. They may offer services you are not aware of at no additional cost.

Boost Participation. The next task is to get people to participate. Here are some recommendations:

* Managers should encourage participation, make it easy for employees to participate, and participate themselves.

* Schedule at convenient locations, during work hours when feasible.

* Provide healthy food and drinks during activities.

* Tell employees what they stand to gain from a particular program; for example, the benefits from walking an extra half-hour a day.

* Offer incentives if your budget permits. Examples include gift certificates, exercise equipment and raffles.

Evaluate the Results. The purposes of evaluation are to determine whether you met your objectives and which parts of the program should be continued, modified and eliminated. Following are some things you might measure:

1. Participation and satisfaction

2. Reduction in risk factors, such as pounds lost and number of employees who quit smoking

3. Healthy behaviors, such as number of miles walked or employees who joined a fitness club

4. Cost-savings, such as reduced health care costs, absenteeism, and disability claims (this can take three to five years to see results)

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