Effective workplace wellness programs offer the potential to change lives, offering everyone in an organization the opportunity to take steps to improve their own health and well-being. These programs help participants improve overall health and fitness, aid in eliminating or controlling risk factors for chronic health issues, and assist in managing existing health issues to minimize their impact on daily life, among other benefits. Wellness programs also benefit employers in terms of increased productivity, reduced worker absenteeism, and lower health care costs.
The key to realizing those benefits for your company and its workers lies in employee engagement – getting workers interested in participating in your wellness program. In a previous post, we touched on some key aspects of promoting wellness in the workplace. Here we'll go over some of those aspects in greater detail.
According to Aetna Health, research has shown that workplace wellness programs with the highest levels of employee participation are those that have solid, visible, and consistent support from senior management.
So what can senior management do to demonstrate a clear commitment to wellness in the workplace?
Lending support to wellness promotions is a good place to start. Ask senior management to get directly involved in announcing and promoting new wellness initiatives. Request that they play an active role in communicating with workers about your wellness program and the resources it offers. Ask which sort of resources they would like to see included in the future. Perhaps someone in a leadership position could set a good example by being the first to take advantage of health assessments and/or screenings offered by your program, to sign up for a fitness challenge, or to enroll in new wellness initiatives, such as smoking cessation, stress management, or weight loss programs. This sort of visible support and reinforcement can make a big difference in terms of employee interest in and engagement with your workplace wellness program.
Having management fully committed and on board with wellness in a more behind-the-scenes capacity is important to employee engagement as well. Management can help by providing ample resources for a good variety of effective wellness initiatives, for instance, and working with you to create a healthy workplace environment. That may include taking steps to improve workplace safety, offering incentives for wellness program participation, and working to provide and encourage healthier food choices in the company's cafeteria and vending machines, among other measures.
According to NOISH, when senior leadership is seen, through clear action on such issues, to have a strong commitment to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of their workers, interest and participation levels in workplace wellness and safety initiatives increases – the effort put forth by employers building trust and lending credibility to health and safety education messages workers receive from their employers.
While human resources professionals are the prime movers in designing and implementing a solid strategy for promoting workplace wellness, getting senior management on board can go a long way towards engaging workers. As UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden once said, "The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example."