Health Promotion and Wellness Programs

Health Promotion and Wellness Programs

A Wellness Program without goals and goals is somewhat akin to taking a family trip without any planning; you won’t know where you are going, how to get there, what you want to do once you have arrived, or even whether or not you have arrived!

The trip might end up ok, or it may end up disastrously. Yet, with a little thoughtful planning, you increase your chances for a successful experience. Clear goals and goals are needed to plan your wellness program for ensure success!

Wellness program goals and goals are different from one corporation to another depending on the population, needs, interests and resources. However, well thought out goals based on your corporation’s needs assessment will form the foundation of a successful wellness program!

Wellness Program Mission Statement

The first consideration is a mission statement for your Wellness Program. the mission statement is the overall expression of what the Wellness Committee wants to accomplish by starting a wellness program.

It’s important to consider how your Wellness Program fits in with the business mission statement, contributes to the overall mission and supports the business bottom line. This will integrate your efforts throughout the business operations.

Here are some examples of Wellness Program mission statements –

At XYZ Company, maintaining an environment that supports employee health and safety is our underlying value. It’s the mission of the Wellness Program to assist in developing wellness services that fosters and upholds that value.

It is the mission of the XYZ Wellness Committee to foster healthier lifestyle choices to reduce health risk factors, improve overall well-being, and maintain a productive, active work force.

Wellness Program Goals

The objectives and objectives further define your mission and are based on your needs assessment. Depending on the needs assessment, management expectations and employee interests, examples of objectives can include –

The goal(s) of XYZ Wellness Program in year XXXX is to – (one or more of the following examples)

• Reduce absenteeism by one day per worker

• Lower musculoskeletal injuries by 10%

• Decrease unnecessary emergency room visits

• Decrease or contain healthcare costs

• Improve dietary habits of employees

• Reduce health risk factors

Wellness Program Objectives

Specific Wellness Program objectives help meet your long-term objectives and vision. Both short term and long term objectives should be developed as the stepping stones to accomplish the objectives and mission.

In addition to goals for the expected participant outcomes, process goals should also be developed for the program process itself. For instance, process goals may include how many staff members you want to participate in the programs, how many sessions on a topic will be offered, the type of wellness sessions that’ll be implemented, etc.

Objectives need to be easily measurable within a set time frame. Attempt using the SMART formula to develop both your long and short-term objectives and objectives –

• Specific (one behavior or outcome)

• Measurable (one result that may be observed or investigated),

• Attainable (but also challenging),

• Realistic (do you’ve the resources to achieve?), and

• Time specific (within 3 months – up to 5 years)

This is the who, what, when, where, why, and by how much method. For instance, an objective for a weight loss program that has an overall goal of improving healthy eating and promoting a healthy weight is that –

Participants (who) will lose an average of .5 – 1 lbs per week (specific what that is measurable) at the end of the 12 week lunchtime program (time specific what, when and where) for a minimum of 6 lbs weight loss per participant (attainable and realistic).

Or –

Participants (who) will attend 11 of the 12 sessions (specific what that is measurable) and name at least one healthier consuming change after the program (specific what, when, where)

An example of an objective for coaching employees with elevated cholesterol might be –

To reduce the sum cholesterol (specific what) of high risk workers with cholesterol over 240 mg/dl (specific who) to 200 mg/dl (measurable how much) through one-on-one counseling sessions offered at the worksite (where) by X date (ex, after 6 months) (attainable, realistic and time specific when) to lower the risk factor for heart illness (why).

And one last example of a process objective for a use of tobacco cessation program with an overall goal to assist participants in committing to quit for life –

By the end of the 4-week smoking cessation program, 10 percent of the participants will have quit smoking. Each participant will be contacted at 3 months, 6 months and 12 months from the program’s end to determine quit status (process objective) and 10 percent of those who quit will still be smoke free after one year.

You’ve now completed Steps 1 through 4, including establishing your Wellness Committee. It is now time to plan your wellness activities!

Before you start planning your Wellness Program you need to know where you are now and then decide where you want to go. Completing a thorough needs assessment is vital to the success of your wellness program for two reasons –

• First it ensures that your program activities will be targeted to meet your corporation’s specific needs so that outcomes may be achieved.

• Secondly the needs assessment provides the information you’ll need to evaluate the effectiveness of your wellness program.

It is often tempting to rush the assessment – specifically when time is limited or those with experience already have an idea of needs. Do not give in to this temptation!

It’s critical to understand what your corporation needs are, what management expects, and what staff members want in addition to expect, before you develop a program.

Consider and gather data on –

• Demographic Information

• Health Risk Factors

• Medical Claims

• Injury Rates and Causes

• Workers’ Compensation Claims

• Short and Long Term Disability Claims

• Absenteeism

• Culture Audits

• Worker perceived needs and health risks

• Management expectations or desired outcomes

There are many ways to assess this information. Although some of data gathering process may be time eating, remember that it’s notwithstanding essential to plan programs that target specific issues.

This information will be vital to set objectives and for evaluating program success. How else can you know if outcomes have been achieved?

Options to help gather the wellness program information –

• Confidential Health Risk (AssessmentAppraisal}s with a Company Group Summary Report click here for more information on Health Risk (AssessmentAppraisal}s or Assessments

• Health Screenings such as cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar click here for additional information on biometric testings.

• Employee Needs and Interest Surveys

• Suggestion boxes placed around the organization

• Focus Groups or hosting a luncheon meeting as a focus group

• Sending out a confidential email questionnaire

• Review records and databases including OSHA logs, first aid reports, insurance costs

Once your needs assessment is complete, the Wellness Committee can review the results and start planning and prioritizing program choices.

Planning ought to be based on objectives and identified outcomes, Step 4 of the seven step process!

Establishing an active Wellness Committee provides opportunities for both management and worker involvement in the program. The Committee must be a team of employees and managers who formally meet to plan activities to promote healthier worker lifestyles.

Typical Functions of a Wellness Committee –

• Assessing needs and interests

• Brainstorming program ideas

• Planning activities

• Developing communication plans

• Promoting programs to peers

• Serving as champions of the Wellness Programs

• Helping with investigation

Your Wellness Committee should be representative of all levels of the company. Consider all areas of the workforce – multiple sites, shift staff members, diversity (race, gender, ethnicity), and departments.

It’s also important to consider who will chair or co-chair the Wellness Committee and whether or not there are the finances to support a wellness manager or occupational health professional, even on a part-time or contractual basis. Click here for additional information on the benefits of a health professional.

Depending on your corporation size and resources, if you already have a corporation Safety Committee you might want to consider making it the Safety and Wellness Committee. You can request volunteers or invite employees to participate.

The number of Wellness Committee members depends on the size of your company; nevertheless, you need enough members to get the work done and yet not too many to keep it manageable, normally a minimum of 4 members and maximum of 12 to 15 members.

It’s important to include skeptics of wellness as well and not just those employees already practicing healthful lifestyles.

Depending on your worksite, consider representatives from the following areas –

• Worker representatives from a cross section of different departments,

• Management/leadership,

• Health and safety professional(s),

• Human resources (HR) expert(s),

• Benefits staff or someone from finance,

• Your staff member assistance program (EAP) provider (if applicable), Click here for additional information on EAPs

• Medical or occupational health staff (if applicable).

Establish an effective Wellness Committee! the Wellness Committee should meet regularly with a planned agenda and action items. Successful Wellness Committees have a shared mission, vision and objectives.

Members need to believe that their participation is worthwhile and appreciated, that their work is important, benefits the organization and colleagues, and they are recognized for their contributions. Refer to the NC Workplace Programs section for examples of what other corporations have implemented.

As with any program, the two critical elements for the success of your wellness program are upper management support and worker involvement. Senior management sets the vision and provides the resources from which action plans flow.

Genuine support from senior personnel also lends credibility to the wellness program. It is key that senior management be visible supporters and role models for your Wellness Program.

Workers need to be involved on several levels so that they feel ownership of the wellness program. Workers are the program stakeholders!

All workers should’ve an opportunity to provide input and feedback through needs and interest surveys and program evaluation tools. The information collected must be used to plan programs that target those needs and interests to ensure participation, buy-in, and support.

There are several methods to identify employee needs and interests like –

• Conducting Employee Focus Groups

• Discussing Wellness Interests During Department Meetings

• Distributing and Summarizing a Needs and Interest Survey

• Including an Opportunity to Provide Suggestions on Each Investigation Tool

Any one or combination of several techniques will ensure that the wellness program meets what employees want. Click here for a sample Needs and Interest Survey.

Step 3 provides additional information on determining wellness program needs. But first, establishing a Wellness Committee can help you involve management and employees, determine need, and plan your wellness program.

Wellness Program Step 1 – Be sure to set the Foundation –

Build Support Among All Levels of the Organization

A key to a successful Wellness Program requires management commitment and staff member involvement.

Wellness Program Step 2 – Form a Wellness Committee

An active Wellness Committee ensures worker involvement, provides buy-in, management support, and maintains a crew that is ready to take action to integrate wellness programs.

Wellness Program Step 3 – Gather Data to Identify Key Needs and Expectations

The next crucial component is to base the Wellness Program on the needs and interests of your business and its employees.

Wellness Program Step 4 – Establish Objectives and Objectives

Goals and goals are the road maps to guide you where your program needs to go. These are the foundation for planning and assessing activities to ensure that your wellness program is going to meet your unique needs.

Wellness Program Step 5 – Create a Detailed Action Plan

There is no such thing as over planning! the best of intentions can get lost, overstepped, or forgotten without adequate planning, and then it’d be all for naught.

Wellness Program Step 6 – Pick and Implement a Plan

Armed with the needs assessment information, a Wellness Committee, and objectives and objectives, it’s now time to put your plan into action!

Wellness Program Step 7 – Monitor and Evaluate Your Wellness Program

Examination is a necessary step to keep a program on target, in addition to to ensure that the program is reaching its objectives or achieving the desired results.


These Seven Steps outline considerations for a extensive approach to establish an effective wellness program. Can you implement components of wellness activities without following these steps?

Certainly, but you could not have the sustainability or ability to obtain desired outcomes. Following the Seven Steps doesn’t have to be complicated or burdensome. A very simple approach can achieve a successful wellness program!

Thus, to ensure a successful wellness program consider the key components as you plan your program or improve your current program –

• Upper Management Support and Staff Member Involvement

• Active Wellness Committee

• Program is Based on Staff Member Needs and Interests

• Goals and Goals are Established

• Detailed Action Plan Based on Resources and Budget

• Program Implementation and Internal Advertising

• Examination of Outcomes and Program

The program design choices depend on the objectives and desired outcomes of your program. When your goal is to help staff members change behavior, reduce risk factors, or save health care dollars then your wellness program would be designed to accomplish those outcomes and a budget would be necessary to support that design.

There are different wellness program design levels depending on desired outcomes and budgets. Each level has advantages and disadvantages. The intentions or results are quite different, aren’t interchangeable as for obtaining the same results, and therefore shouldn’t be confused.

For example, scheduling activities like an employee wellness fair or lunchtime education sessions, or having handouts available don’t generally result in behavior change, but may increase awareness on a topic.

When the goal is behavior change then a different design is required, like Lifestyle/Behavior Change Programs and Organizational Support. The outline below describes the wellness design levels with a brief explanation.

Awareness Programs – at this level a corporation makes health information available and accessible to employees. This type of program can include handouts on a selection of topics, wellness articles in newsletters, bulletin board displays, e-mail health messages, etc.

Also, most wellness fairs are designed as awareness programs with providers providing information and providing biometric screenings to workers.

Awareness programs are inexpensive and don’t require extensive worker or corporation time commitments. However, these programs don’t generally lead to healthier behavior change.

Increasing awareness is not generally enough to generate lifestyle changes for most individuals, unless used to motivate workers to register for a program being offered at the company or community on the topic.

An example of this would be providing information on the harmful effects of smoking and inviting workers who smoke to register for a smoking cessation class.

Education Programs – Educational programs often provide more information on a topic and can also provide time for questions and answers, but are similar to awareness programs. An example is lunch-n-learn sessions on a health related topic.

These cost the corporation a little more than awareness programs; nonetheless, they’re still inexpensive and do not require a great deal of time for planning or attending a session.

Again, increasing awareness and providing information may not lead to the desired behavior change unless ongoing support or incentives are also planned.

Lifestyle/Behavior Change Programs – These programs are designed as 4 to 12 weekly sessions or seminars to provide wellness education, address barriers and provide opportunities to practice the desired skills.

Behavior change programs hence require more company resources, cost more, also require more worker commitment, time and effort. The results are often the desired positive lifestyle change, which if sustained can lead to potential cost savings.

Examples are tobacco use cessation classes, weight loss and weight control meetings, or an ongoing fitness program.

Environmental and Organizational Support – Environmental support is often considered the highest and most important level to include when designing your wellness program for support and maintain healthy behaviors.

These kinds of design choices include policy changes like –

• Creating a tobacco-free workplace

• Designating a walking path,

• Establishing onsite fitness clubs,

• Ensuring healthy vending machine selections,

• Offering healthful food options in the cafeteria, and/or

• Establishing flex-time policies.

Other examples include subsidizing healthful vending machines or cafeteria choices; reimbursing fitness club or weight loss and weight management program memberships; or providing insurance incentives for healthful behaviors.

Ideally, the wellness program design would include some of all these choices. The more comprehensive and integrated the approach, the more successful the results will be. For instance, a company can –

• have tobacco cessation information available;
• can schedule a one hour awareness session on the harmful effects of tobacco use and how to quit;
• can begin an on-site smoking cessation program,
• supply self quit use of tobacco kits, or
• support workers to attend a community program; and/or
• on an environmental support level can establish a tobacco-free workplace and grounds,
• offer lower insurance premiums for non-smokers, or
• provide pharmacological quit smoke aids for free.

Wellness Program – Components for Success

There are several key components or elements that should be considered to ensure the success of your Wellness Program or wellness program. These include –

• Executive Management Support and Worker Involvement

• Active Wellness Committee

• Program is Based on Staff Member Needs and Interests

• Objectives and Objectives are Established

• Detailed Action Plan Based on Resources and Budget

• Program Implementation and Internal Marketing and Advertising

• Analysis of Outcomes and Program

Major benefits of healthy workers include –

• Lower Healthcare Costs

• Decreased Injuries

• Decreased Absenteeism

• Increased Morale and Loyalty

• Higher Productivity

• Reduced Use of Health Care Benefits

• Lowered Workers’ Compensation / Disability

• Positive Perception in Community

• Decreased Turnover

• Better recruitment for skilled employees

What is NOT having a Wellness Program costing your company?

Consider the health risk factors that are increasing chronic illnesss for adults –

• 59% of adults are overweight or obese

• More than 60% of American adults don’t exercise regularly

• More than 75 percent of adults don’t consume the minimum recommendations for fruits and vegetables

• Heart disease is the most common cause of death and the leading cause of death in smokers

• 26 percent of staff members reported they were often or very often burned out or stressed by their work

Healthcare Costs are Increasing – Healthcare costs are at a record high of $1.7 trillion with no signs of holding steady let alone decreasing. The average cost of annual health care spending is over $5,000 per individuals and with dependents nearly $10,000.

Recent data shows that healthcare related expenses now cost North Carolina businesses thousands of dollars per staff member, per year.

Most Illnesses can be Prevented – Although it sounds unbelievable, specialists indicate that preventable illness makes up 60% – 70% of the entire burden of illness in the United States

In North Carolina, it’s estimated that more than 53 percent of all deaths are preventable, and that 2/3 of all preventable deaths are due to tobacco use, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition.

Stress Levels are Increasing – as business resources become less and businesses adopt leaner work practices, the effects of absenteeism and productivity lost have a greater impact.

In a recent national poll, 78 percent of American Citizens described their jobs as stressful, and the majority felt that stress levels have become worse over the last 10 years. Further, high levels of organizational stress can negatively affect a company by increasing injuries, absenteeism, and health care costs while lowering productivity.

Simple solutions like stress management education, flexible work schedules, quality social interaction, and increased participation in company decision-making can improve stress levels in the workplace.

What is the Upfront Cost and Time Investment for a Wellness Program?

The cost depends on the kind of Wellness Program implemented. There are several options to promote staff member health with advantages and disadvantages of each. The program design depends on the objectives of the wellness program, the corporation resources, and the community resources available.

Improving dietary practices, increasing physical activity levels, managing stress or addressing work life balance issues, and reducing/eliminating tobacco use, are main strategies for preventing many of the most common preventable chronic illnesss.

The possibilities of how your company addresses these issues are endless and can range from increasing worker awareness, which can include purchasing several pamphlets on a selection of topics, and measuring walking distances around your facility.

Other possibilities include establishing organizational support like funding a fulltime occupational health professional or building an onsite gym.

When well planned and based on your goals, any of these programs can help you succeed. Refer below to Wellness Program Design Choices for additional ideas.

A Wellness Program is an organized program to assist and support employees in establishing healthier lifestyles. This can include increasing staff member awareness on health topics, scheduling behavior change programs, and/or establishing corporation policies that support health-related goals.

Programs and policies that promote increased physical activity, tobacco use prevention and cessation, and healthful food selections are a few examples.

Dimensions of Wellness

Wellness is more than physical fitness. In addition to physical fitness, the dimensions of optimal health include

• Spiritual Wellness

• Emotional Wellness

• Social Wellness

• Intellectual Wellness

These dimensions are often depicted as a “life wheel” with examples of health components that include –

• fitness,
• nutrition,
• purpose in life,
• financial planning,
• social connections and support systems,
• stress management,
• mind-body health,
• career planning and
• continued learning.

The key for individual health is keeping the “life wheel” in balance. A comprehensive wellness program addresses most, if not all, of these dimensions.

Why Corporate Wellness?

Workers spend a excellent deal of time on the job, and the truth is that our traditional work-week is increasing. Indeed, the typical American now works about 47 hours per week.

Plus, technologies such as modems, laptops, cellular phones, voice and email have blurred the work-life boundary. These realities lower the amount of time that the average individual is able to devote to wellness pursuits, and yet workers are expected to be at top performance when at work.

A recent research study by the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses found that corporate wellness or wellness programs are successful in helping staff members make positive health changes due to a few factors like convenience, environmental support, and coworker or social acceptance.

What’s the Link between Wellness and the Workplace?

Programs and policies that promote healthful behaviors may make a large difference on worker wellness AND have an impact on the corporation’s bottom line. Studies have shown that for every dollar invested by employers in corporate wellness/wellness programs, there were savings ranging from $1.49 to $4.91 with a median savings of $3.14*.

In company terms, that’s more than a 3 – 1 minimum return on investment – a number that is hard to ignore, and a best practice that should warrant serious consideration from businesses.

Truly, a corporate wellness literature review posted in Wellness Practitioner Journal found –

• 19 studies found a 28.3 percent reduction in sick time

• 16 studies demonstrated a 5.6 – 1 return on investment

• 23 showed a 26.1 percent reduction in health costs

• 4 found a 30% reduction in direct medical and workers’ compensation claims

There is little doubt that a comprehensive wellness program targeted to meet a corporation’s specific needs can save money by lowering absenteeism, lowering health care expenditures, lowering worker turnover, and increasing productivity.

• U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2003

Ten Steps Toward Strategic Wellness Programs

The Wellness Program management world is evolving rapidly. Each month, there are new research findings that support the premise that Wellness Programs and disease management have a long-term impact on health care costs.

A lot of large businesses that began Wellness Programs three to five years ago are showing savings in health, disability, and workers compensation costs. Small to mid-size businesses are watching all this and wondering where to start with wellness.

Getting senior level management support and budget approval is among the challenges at the starting of a Wellness Program. This is the case because Wellness Programs can be expensive, averaging $150-300 per employee per year in big companies.

Most of the savings are not realized for a number of years. This long-term investing is hard for businesses on the move.

The key to success for Wellness Programs is to take a strategic approach. Here are ten steps to consider when beginning a Wellness Program.

1. Begin with upper-level management. Without upper-level management support, a wellness strategy can fall flat. Begin with the health of your executive team and discover your wellness champions at the top of the organization.

2. Analyze the problem. Look at your health care claims and analyze the trends. Which conditions are driving your medical, disability, and workers’ compensation claims and which are modifiable? What’s worked and what hasn’t accordingly far? What’s the long-term impact of doing nothing?

3. Hold an initial wellness meeting. Invite your key stakeholders both inside and outside the corporation. Ask your broker to facilitate the meeting and invite key health providers including health, disability, Worker Assistance Program (EAP), fitness, and occupational nursing.

Review claims and utilization data and identify key areas of concern. Look at current offerings and see how they can be tailored to the needs of the population.

4. Consider both healthful and unhealthful employees. Since 85 percent of claims are ordinarily attributed to 15 percent of claimants, it’s essential to reach those with the most costly conditions while also reaching people who are at risk for developing preventable illnesses in the future.

Voluntary wellness programs such as lunchtime wellness seminars miss many of the individuals who need them most. Consider programs that are population-wide or target intact workgroups. Wellness incentives help but do not motivate everybody.

5. Make sure to set short-term objectives for the wellness programs. Make sure to set some realistic short-term objectives based on your key areas of concern. Are there any plan design changes that could’ve an immediate impact on spending? Are there some programmatic actions that could’ve immediate results?

6. Find out what workers are thinking. Hold some focus groups to determine where people are with wellness. What’s working? What isn’t? How much interest do people have in the Wellness Programs? What obstacles and barriers are workers experiencing when they attempt to change behavior?

7. Make certain you have a high-impact Staff Member Assistance Program (EAP). Your first wellness dollars ought to go into upgrading your Staff Member Assistance Program (EAP). A highly utilized Staff Member Assistance Program (EAP) can provide a foundation for all of your future wellness activities.

A good Staff Member Assistance Program (EAP) is a trusted link to the hearts and minds of staff members. at no additional cost, the Staff Member Assistance Program (EAP) can provide needed follow-up coaching and personal attention for staff members who are working on modifiable health behaviors or involved in disease management programs.

Nutritionists, fitness, pregnancy, and stress management specialists are all part of a high-value Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

8. Make certain to set three to five year objectives for health care savings and measure them. Get help from your broker and insurance carrier help you on long-term objectives for your health, disability, and staff members compensation plans.

Establish program metrics that will help you to measure ROI. Go beyond participation rates, completion rates and program satisfaction. Measure changes in readiness, changes in behavior, and changes in risk factors. Establish rigorous methods to measure health care savings over the long term.

9. Make sure to set objectives for organizational health. Consider the more intangible benefits of a wellness program and quantify them whenever possible. Include employee turnover rates, cost of new hires, employee morale, benefit satisfaction data, and business of choice issues in establishing objectives. Establish ways to measure success in these areas.

10. Add specifics to your short and long-term plan. Include a program strategy, a communication strategy, and an incentive strategy that’ll fit with your corporate culture. Focus on integration of related components along a health continuum with communications that are focused, simple, and human.

Establish a budget that includes key components such as consumer education, wellness, health risk (assessmentappraisal}s, and regular biometric screens.

Wellness Programs are vital to bettering the health of our nations. Most adults spend more of their waking hours at work than anywhere else, making it a great venue for promoting healthful habits.

The worksite organizational culture and environment are powerful influences on behavior and this needs to be put to use as a means of helping staff members to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Benefits to Wellness Programs include –

• Weight reduction

• Improved fitness

• Increased stamina

• Lower levels of stress

• Increased wellness, self-image and self-esteem

Businesss can also benefit from Wellness Programs. According to recent research, companys’ benefits are –

• Enhanced recruitment and retention of healthful workers

• Lowered healthcare costs

• Lowered rates of disease and injuries

• Reduced staff member absenteeism

• Improved employee relations and morale

• Increased productivity

A United States Department of Health and Human Services report revealed that at worksites with exercise programs as components of their Wellness Programs have –

• Lowered health care costs by 20 to 55 percent

• Reduced short-term sick leave by six to 32%

• Increased productivity by two to 52%

Thanks to modern medicine, life expectancy for American Citizens has continually increased. How much we enjoy these additional years, however, depends greatly on how we have lived our lives.

When our quality of life is to remain high so that we can fully enjoy these additional years, we must practice good eating habits, be active and refrain from using tobacco products.