3 ways to freshen up a wellness program

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The goal of any worksite well-being initiative is to create the conditions and environment for people to be their best selves at work and thrive every day. It’s about more than just lowering healthcare costs, or forcing employees to do the “right” and healthy thing. It’s about offering myriad programming, benefits and support to create a motivating and engaging environment for people to prosper in the workplace. As we celebrate Employee Well-being Month in June, it’s a great time to practice the three R’s to worksite wellness: reflect, reintroduce, and re-energize your approach to employee wellbeing.

Benefits and HR managers are constantly pulled in a thousand different directions. A majority of the year is spent on renewal strategy and planning and annual enrollment delivery, as well as concerns surrounding compliance, health reform and benefits administration (and the list goes on and on.) Not intentionally, but employee well-being is often an afterthought or tacked onto a conversation when planning for annual enrollment.

The best thing about Employee Well-being Month is for a majority of companies on an annual calendar year, it falls into a time where you can be deliberate with your strategy and carve out some time to really reflect and plan. I call this the “20 days, 20 ways” challenge. The goal is to spend 20 minutes a day meeting with all workplace centers of influence at your company and brainstorming 20 ways to enhance employee’s well-being. These workplace centers of influence are all-encompassing, meaning any business function that touches an employee’s life in some way at work, including payroll, safety, recruiting, communications, IT, real estate, etc.

Does it feel like an overwhelming challenge to find 20 minutes a day to strategize? If so, just think about how employees perceive being told to eat healthy, exercise 20 minutes a day, etc. Think of the areas within your culture or program you may be encouraging people to do something they feel won’t benefit them or that they don’t have time for, and begin by taking stock of those. Conduct an audit of all your programs, benefits, discounts, etc. and decide which do not fully serve employees’ well-being. Next, devise a list of ways, together, you can collectively enhance the overall employee wellbeing experience at work.

A great next step is to reintroduce key programs that truly contribute to employee well-being. How many times have you heard an employee say, “I didn’t know we had that program,” or “I didn’t know my company offered that benefit/service.” It’s a common issue plaguing every company, and every year a goal is set to communicate outside of just during annual enrollment. Often times, priorities and projects just get in the way.

This next step is made easily once the list created in the “20 days, 20 ways” challenge is rounded out. Review the benefits and key programs that help move the needle, and reintroduce them – but in a variety of ways.

Employees are inundated with email, often at the detriment of their well-being, so take this month to communicate in new, creative and fun ways. Replace your typical health fair with an employee well-being day showcasing key benefits in addition to other programs and policies that go beyond benefits. Capitalize on employee touchpoints to communicate just-in-time messages. Think of key areas your employees frequent daily, including the entrance, the restrooms, the coffee station/breakroom, the snack machines, the water cooler and their desks, and creatively reintroduce them to things that will truly enhance their well-being. New ideas, such as engaging posters, video messages, stress balls, a companywide voicemail from the CEO, and more can go a long way in advancing your message.

There are five main pillars of well-being, according to wellness experts and authors, Tom Rath and Jim Harter, including career well-being, financial well-being, physical well-being, social well-being and community well-being. For the most part, physical well-being programs still make up 90% of employers’ programming focus, yet there are four additional areas that need to remain in focus for a holistic wellness solution.

Sometimes employees get tired of hearing about exercising, getting their steps in, calling their health coach or getting their annual physicals done. Take this month to change things up and invigorate your employee’s well-being by focusing on another pillar of well-being.

Need some fresh ideas? This is a great time to institute employee appreciation month, practicing gratitude and recognition, not only from the company to the employees or managers to employees, but on a peer-to-peer level as well. You can also conduct a “You Make a Difference” challenge – where a company designates a wall or creates a private Facebook group for employees to recognize a co-worker who made a difference in their life. Or, help people focus on giving back to others on a daily basis, by spending the month with a “Pay it Forward” challenge. Encourage people to see how many nice things they can do in a day. That positive energy infused in your workplace for a month does wonders to enhance and re-energize people at work and really contributes to their overall well-being. Plus, research supports that these types of positive practices are not inherent, and rather they are actually learned skills.

By using these three simple, yet powerful, techniques of reflecting, reintroducing, and re-energizing any employee well-being program or initiative, you ensure you are truly addressing the key fundamentals and are continuing to create the necessary conditions and environment for people to thrive and be their best at work.

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Wellness programs Health and wellness Wellness Benefit management Financial wellness Mental health