Why Start A Wellness Program?

Wellness has become intertwined with a company’s culture.  Not only do wellness initiatives help employers recruit and retain top talent but investing in their employees’ health also reaps myriad benefits like reduced healthcare costs and increased productivity.

Answering the question “Should we have a wellness program” is the easy part.  After you answer “yes,” various follow-up questions will inevitably pop up that need to be considered when starting a wellness program.

Let’s break it down.

Why do you want to start a wellness program?

This should be the first question you ask yourself.  What is motivating you to start a wellness program and what exactly are you trying to achieve?  This question is critical because it will, in some ways, drive the rest of your program planning.

Many companies intend to start a wellness program to reduce their healthcare costs by improving employee health.  Other companies are focused less on these costs and more on company culture.  They want their employees to enjoy where they work, improve work-life balance, and foster creativity.

These are just two common reasons of many, but they are important to consider as they will dictate what your wellness program looks like.  If you want to reduce costs, you may want to consider an outcomes-based program that looks at biometric data, for instance.  On the other hand, if you want to focus on providing employees a rewarding environment that supports their wellbeing, you may want to implement a behavior-based program that focuses on overall health.  Therefore, how you answer this question will undoubtedly influence your answer to our next:

What do you want your wellness program to look like?

Is this simply a job perk or is it tied to their benefits?  Do you plan to incentivize your employees to participate or, even further, hit specific goals you set forth for them?

If you implement an outcomes-based program, you will need to determine what outcomes you are measuring and what the employee needs to do in order to achieve these goals.  You may also need to navigate EEOC rules pertaining to offering incentives tied to biometric measures. We work with a lot of clients that use outcomes-based programming and will gladly offer ideas and best practices to guide you through the process.

If you are leaning more towards a program that focuses on overall wellbeing, you likely prioritize participation and engagement over metrics.  In this instance, you may want to look at the performance-based challenges Motivation Alliance offers, such as our popular Movement Challenge or our Step Challenge!  If you want to focus on several healthy behaviors, we recommend utilizing our achievement program feature.  Build one from scratch or work off one of our templates, such as the Engagement Program template or the Stress & Mindfulness template!

You also have options if you want your initiative to be a bit less structured.  Instead of a program, you can promote various areas of the software to your participants for them to explore and log at their own pace.  One suggestion is to promote Motivation Alliance’s daily pursuits.  Focused on four key aspects of health, our daily pursuits are broken down into four categories:  Move, Nourish, Reflect, and Thrive.

 Another idea would be to promote our Interactive Learning Programs (ILPs).  Current popular ILP topics include Managing Stress, Building Resilience, Weight Management, Sleep, Heart Health, Tobacco Free, and Financial Wellness. We continually work to expand these content offerings.  Incorporate them into an achievement program, recommend them to an entire population or subpopulation via a News & Announcement, or suggest specific pursuits or ILPs to individual participants for more one-on-one interaction.

As you begin to figure out what you want your wellness program to look like, it’s time to start thinking about this next question if you haven’t already.

What’s your budget?

Being realistic with your budget is paramount.  Can you afford prizes?  If so, how many and what kind?  Do you want to award them to everyone, use a raffle system, or only reward those who hit their goals?  Further, if you cannot afford prizes, how do you plan to incentivize your population?  What resources can you utilize?  There are great, low-cost ways to incentivize a population such as offering a “free” vacation day, partnering with local businesses for free or discounted gym/fitness class passes, providing one day employees can bring their pet to work, and giving an extra day off employees can use to volunteer.

Here’s another budgeting consideration: what about your time? Will you be the “wearer of all hats wellness” (and possibly other responsibilities) or will you have additional team members to help?   Do you have the bandwidth and manpower to be heavily involved, or do you need program that runs itself?  Do you plan to do more health coaching one-on-one, or do you need to address your population as a whole?  Based on your time commitment and goals, use our tools in Motivation Alliance to work one-on-one with your participants, promote to your entire population, or micro-target subpopulations and specific groups easily and in a timely manner. 

In addition to Motivation Alliance’s tools and templates, be sure to leverage BSDI’s Account Managers for support – whether you want to brainstorm over a call, need some assistance setting up a program, have a question about a new feature, or would like an extra set of eyes to ensure you’re pulling all the data you need – they are here to ensure your program is as successful as possible.  This of course brings us to our next question.

How would you determine if it is successful?

This may be the fourth question, but it’s definitely an important one.  How are you measuring the success of your program?  Determining this before you even begin is crucial so you can be sure to track the appropriate metrics.

Do you need a certain number of participants to hit a specific biometric goal in order to consider the program successful?  Do you simply want to look at participant numbers – possibly the percentage of your population that is engaged?  If so, you’ll also need to determine what you consider “engaged.”  Once you determine what specifically you want to track, utilize our robust Analytics tool to pull the data you need.

If you’re hoping to positively impact your company culture, you may also want to ask for feedback pre and post program.  Use Motivation Alliance’s survey tool to easily set this up and gather feedback.

What is your culture currently like?

Lastly, we encourage you to think about what your culture is currently like.  Is work-life balance encouraged?  Are your middle management and your executive team involved in initiatives like this?  If not, are they willing to be?  Leadership can be key to your program.  If those in higher positions not only encourage their employees to participate but practice what they preach and participate themselves, the effects could be remarkable.  Figure out where company culture currently stands, anticipate any barrier to participation due to this, and determine a game plan to overcome these obstacles.

If you haven’t already, start mulling these questions over.  No matter why you are starting a wellness program or how you want it to look, the team at BSDI is here to help. If you are already a customer, reach out to your account manager or if you’re new to the wellness program game and need a comprehensive and configurable piece of software to run your program, reach out to us: info@bsdiweb.com. You can also check out our website for more information.  

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