Article: Five factors of a successful wellness program

Employee Relations

Five factors of a successful wellness program

Employee wellness programs have the potential to unleash significant impact on productivity and performance of employees
Five factors of a successful wellness program

Assessments must focus on health impact rather than the ‘number of tests’ approach


Success factor #1: Change the paradigm from illness to wellness

What to do: Most wellness programs being implemented are in partnership with hospital chains and insurance companies and include radiology screening etc which are tools used to diagnose existing disease and not predict future heath. Not only do these additional tests expose the individual to unnecessary radiation risk but may also add to the overall cost of the package without delivering expected value. Conducting programs that include the minimum tests that are needed help to give a snapshot of current health status and predict future risk potential & possible intervention to mitigate this risk.

Success factor #2: Employee Health checkup is just a part of the wellness journey. This should be used as trigger to initiate other program as needed

What to do: It is not enough to do a standalone wellness event; it will just provide you a snapshot. Every program has to be followed through. The wellness (or health) report shared with employees after such programs should be meaningful and give them a specific course of action in terms of what to do next so that the impact on health is tangible in the long run.

Assessments must focus on health impact rather than the ‘number of tests’ approach and should do a quantified health risk assessment of the future risks for an individual. The follow-through strategy should include assessments which deliver two things:

  1. Comprehensive reports and a future projection of an employee to his condition with what he needs to do thereby
  2. Helping the organisation to improve their health profile from status A to B over a period of time to finally culminate in analyzing the overall gains out of a wellness program and insurance payouts

Success factor #3: Involvement of the senior leadership

What to do: Wellness is something that should be on the agenda of senior management because of the impact on performance productivity. When wellness initiatives are personally decided or thought through by the senior leaders. After an employee wellness program the organization should seek an overview of the arrangements health. This will help to drive the type of future intervention and needed to impact productivity reduce insurance costs absenteeism etc.

When the senior leadership team personally participates in such a program in terms of their wellness checks , it sends a strong message within various levels of management on the seriousness of an organisation for health , wellness , arresting absenteeism thereby increasing productivity. One of the organisations we work with kicks off the program with a photograph of the CEO giving sample which is circulated through an internal newsletter.

Success factor #4: Organising on site programs

What to do: Many of the programs are conducted off-site or at hospitals. To avail the benefits of such initiatives, employees have to take a day off or sacrifice their weekends, something they don’t feel very enthusiastic about and therefore the participation levels are so low that often, the engagement score for such programs doesn’t exceed 20 or 30 per cent. It is essential to implement the programs keeping the employees’ perspective in mind. We have seen that engagement scores for onsite programs conducted with pre-planning, scheduling and the senior leaders personal involvement is very high and effective.

Success factor #5: Creating an engaging week-long event out of the activity

What to do: One important part is pre-event activation & creating the buzz around the whole event by running it like a health and wellness week. This takes wellness from being a complicated scientific concept to something that every regular employee will relate to and be enthusiastic about. This helps in building employee engagement and ensuring very good penetration in terms of utilising this initiative. Unless this approach is structured, wellness programs will remain more of a box-ticking exercise.

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Topics: Employee Relations, Strategic HR

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