Starting a workplace wellness program is often the biggest challenge for employers. This step involves soliciting senior management buy-in and support and developing your wellness team, mission statement and strategic plan so you have a solid foundation for your program.
Here you will find tips and resources to help you get started with your wellness efforts.
- Getting Management Support
- Building a Business Case
- Choosing Advocates
- Creating Mission & Strategic Plan
The Importance of Senior Level Support
When launching your wellness program, it's necessary to gain the support of senior management to ensure its success. This support will be the driving force behind delivering a program that is well-received at every level within your organization.
Securing senior management support will help you to:
- Obtain necessary funding and resources for implementation
- Identify senior management role models
- Link your program to business goals
Simply put, you won't succeed without it.
Focus on the following company representatives to achieve senior management support:
- Your Organization's Leader
- Middle management
- Role models
Your Organization's Leader: The CEO/President
Before you approach your organization’s leader with the idea of starting a wellness program, do your research. Find out how he feels about the cost of health care for the organization and what role he believes overall health and wellness plays in the bottom line success of the company.
Find out how your leader:
- Defines workplace wellness
- Feels about including health and wellness promotion in the vision or long-range strategic plan of the company
- Approaches the high cost of health care
- Drives any current company health and wellness efforts
- Delegates tasks (through middle management or key employees)
- Allocates resources
- Communicates the importance of wellness within the organization
- Personally practices health promotion
The key to success – the more you know about your leadership, the greater the impact your presentation will have on obtaining buy-in from senior level management.
Middle management, such as directors, managers and/or supervisors, will play a key role in the success of your program. Remember, these individuals:
- Have a strong voice with employees
- Influence employee participation
- Share and support the wellness vision
- Monitor progress and celebrate employees' success
When it comes to workplace wellness initiatives, middle management is usually less concerned about ROI and decreasing medical costs for the organization, and more focused on:
- Delivering peak performance
- Increasing productivity
- Decreasing absenteeism
- Enhancing teamwork/morale
Keep in mind that a well constructed workplace wellness program will deliver all of these results and much more.
Your management team can be used as role models for your wellness program. To demonstrate health and wellness role modeling for employees, they can:
- Make positive lifestyle changes visible to the organization
- Participate in company wellness activities
- Reduce the impact of poor modeling and attitudes
- Share wellness successes and challenges openly with employees
Selecting the right wellness roles models is essential. Be thinking about what key characteristics make someone a good role model. Strong role models often ask themselves:
- What are my personal wellness strengths?
- What personal changes am I willing to make?
- Do I have a personal wellness success story?
- How might my efforts be made visible?
- How will I model participation and support for the wellness initiative?
How to Build a Business Case
After completing your senior management research, you will want to develop an organized workplace wellness business case before you approach senior management for buy-in.
Depending on your company’s size, your wellness needs and the level of interest from senior management, the presentation of your business case can be anything from a casual conversation with your CEO/President to a formal board room meeting.
All business cases, no matter what format, should include the following details:
- Industry statistics that may relate to your company
- U.S. health trends
- Cost of unhealthy behaviors (direct/indirect costs)
- Testimonials from organizations and employees
- Company-specific statistics
- Aggregate medical claims data from your employee population
- Absenteeism and retention trends of your employee population
- Preliminary wellness program goals and objectives (or more formal strategic plan)
- Definition of Return on Investment (ROI)
- Demonstration of ROI
The information used to build your business case can later be tied into developing your strategic plan.
Consider the following questions before presenting your business case to your stakeholders:
- How does the program fit into the overall business goals?
- What resources — including people, financial, supplies and other critical assets — are available?
- Who are the key team members that will be setting the direction and developing goals?
- What is the organization’s environment, culture, demographics, etc.?
- What aspects of your project plan, timelines, expectations, budget and resources can you tie to your company’s mission?
Resources for building a business case:
- Why start from scratch? We put together this business case template with examples to help you get started.
- Need health statistics? Check out the Centers for Disease Control Healthier Worksite Initiative
Demonstrating your Return on Investment (ROI) can help you gain increased support from management to continue your wellness program and possibly grow it in the future.
However, this task is not always easy. You must first understand what ROI is, and what type of ROI is most important in your organization.
ROI is a form of cost-benefit analysis used to compare how much money is gained from the implementation of a program versus how much was spent.
There are many different expectations around a program’s ROI. Remember to clearly define ROI expectations up front prior to setting up evaluation tools that will be used after the program has been implemented.
There are several factors that influence ROI. When deciding what types of programs you want to implement and measure, remember these factors:
- Characteristics of your employees such as age, gender, education level, etc.
- Number and complexity of your program(s)
- Length of the program(s)
- Whether you offer a formal incentive program
- How many employees participate in the program(s)
- Your workplace culture and senior management support
View an illustration on how to demonstrate ROI here.
Types of ROI
ROI can be demonstrated through a variety of economic and non-economic factors. Take a moment to consider all types of ROI to ensure you can build a wellness program and business case to meet the specific needs of your organization.
- Health costs
- Reduction in health risk
- Utilization of care
- Presenteeism (measurement of employee engagement in their tasks/work)
- Decision-making quality
- Stamina and resilience
- Inter-personal skills
- Positive attitude
- Physical strength and flexibility
- Company loyalty
- Health awareness
The Wellness Committee
Selecting a good committee will help you create and manage a workplace wellness program successfully. A wellness committee is preferably comprised of a diverse group of 8-15 employees, representing a cross-section of staff. They need to meet regularly and work together to facilitate health programs, activities and behaviors among employees. The committee typically leads the development, implementation and evaluation process for a workplace wellness program.
Your wellness committee may be responsible for:
- Developing a mission statement
- Developing short-term and long-term goals (e.g. strategic plan)
- Brainstorming program ideas
- Developing and implementing activities
- Creating a communication plan
- Promoting programs and communicating with stakeholders, management and employees
- Serving as workplace wellness champions and generating team enthusiasm
- Assisting with evaluation of program
The presence of management support is crucial for maintaining strong committee energy. When possible, have senior management attend committee meetings to rally committee enthusiasm and demonstrate their support for the program.
Recruiting Wellness Committee Advocates
Since your wellness committee will lead the charge for your new wellness program, it is essential to recruit the most appropriate employees on the committee.
These committee members should:
- Be able to commit allocated time to the committee (meetings, activities)
- Attain support from their own direct managers
- Radiate enthusiasm about the wellness initiative
- Represent a specific group or department in the organization
- Provide a specific skill set for the committee (e.g. creative, critical thinker, analytical, physical dexterity)
Smaller organizations may have only a one-member committee. In such instances, the single wellness advocate should seek ideas and feedback from a cross-section of employees as much as possible.
Use this Wellness Committee Recruitment template to help get you started selecting your wellness team.
Your Wellness Mission
A wellness mission is a statement that summarizes the purpose and objectives of your organization's commitment to your workplace wellness program. One or more key objectives may make up your wellness mission statement.
Your mission statement should:
- Integrate wellness program(s) with overall company business goals
- Establish the "big picture" objective and offer direction for program development
- Identify the desired outcome of your program
- Provide identity and visibility of program to employees
Taking time to clarify and describe your wellness mission will help provide a focused and consistent direction for your workplace wellness initiatives.
Mission Statement Examples:
- "Establish and maintain a workplace that encourages environmental and social support for a healthy lifestyle."
- "Company ABC's workplace wellness program will assist employees in increasing and/or sustaining optimal health, so they can serve our customers more efficiently and effectively."
- "Enhance physical, emotional, and intellectual health of our employee population and their spouses through means of awareness, education and onsite health promotion programs."
- "Company ABC will actively improve the health of its employees through a wellness program that increases awareness and self efficacy to ultimately improve employee morale and job satisfaction."
Creating a Long-Term Strategic Plan
You have one opportunity to implement a wellness program for the first time. Whatever you choose to do will have a lasting impression on employees and management alike and ultimately shape the success of the program. Take this process slow to maximize the ultimate outcome. One way to carefully outline your goals and program ideas is through a strategic plan.
A strategic plan could take many shapes or forms, but ultimately it should provide a clear outline or map for how you intend to achieve your long-term goals and support your mission statement.
Your plan should illustrate how you will integrate workplace wellness into your company’s central operations and goals. This is achieved by outlining all activities over the next 1-5 years. Don’t worry if you can’t launch all of your programs in the first year. Most of the first year will be focused on planning and getting organized.
Include your major activities, as well as realistic timelines for when you think you can accomplish these activities. A strategic plan is an iterative document and your activities will change as you revise your goals based on feedback from employees or due to changes in your company’s culture.
Your strategic plan should address the following questions:
- Where are we today?
- Where do we want to be in the future?
- What activities should we focus on today in order to meet our long-term goals?
- How will we know if we’ve succeeded?
To get you started writing your own strategic plan, take a look at our sample strategic plan.