HR Management & Compliance, Talent

Creating Health and Wellness Programming that Fosters a Culture of Health

An organization is only as strong as its people, so in order to operate at its best, employees need to be at their best. That’s where a good wellness program can really make a difference.

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In today’s environment of 24-hour work cycles, and hyper-connectedness with technology, many employees are looking for ways to achieve work/life balance or, as some would say, work/life integration. In addition, from a numbers perspective, the cost of health care to both employers and employees is on the rise, but at the same time we are seeing a decline in overall health with specific rises in obesity, heart disease, and diabetes across the country. This is why creating, supporting, and sustaining a culture of health is so important for organizations today— but how do you create programs that matter to your employees while yielding meaningful and measurable outcomes?

Step 1—Find Out What Employees NEED

Measurable outcomes that improve overall employee health and reduce healthcare expenses should be the desired outcome of any health and wellness program. A great place to start and to determine what is most needed for your employees is to partner with your healthcare provider and get reports on your claims data—specifically look for what are the largest challenges faced by your group and understand how moving the needle on different ailments (e.g., obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes) will make a difference in healthcare outcomes and claims. After you have this information, you can begin to determine what you want to tackle and set both short-term and long-term goals.

Step 2—Find Out What Employees WANT

It’s often surprising how often leadership tries to determine what would be interesting and meaningful to employees when it comes to health and wellness programming without ever asking their employees. When you ask employees directly about the types of activities they would like to do, what topics are of interest to their family and friends, and what their organization can do to make them feel supported in their health and wellness journey, their answers are usually far less complicated and less expensive than what leadership designed, and there will often be a lot of overlap with what they NEED in Step 1!

We like to put the employees Needs/Wants story together using both quantitative and qualitative methods or, as we call them, numbers and meaning. Design survey questions around the areas the organization wants to tackle. The numbers tell you where to look as well as to provide an overall impression of the direction employees want to take by helping to rank what is more important to them. Then use these findings to develop focus group questions and ask employees how they would like to see interventions in these areas come to life. Basically, you get the employees to design the program for you! People support what they help to create.

In tomorrow’s Advisor we will examine a few more steps like incentives, communication, and feedback. Stay tuned.

Dr. Harold Hardaway built his career navigating executives and organizations through change initiatives and helping them turn their culture into a strategic advantage. Beginning his career as a corporate trainer, Hardaway is a skilled facilitator with a unique ability to operate at the strategic and tactical level with a primary focus on leadership, corporate culture, and organizational change.

Shannon Hernandez, CHC, is a gifted communication and marketing strategist who, over the last 15 years, has made a name for herself creating game-changing communication and health and wellness initiatives that facilitate organizational and personal growth.