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The key components of implementing a wellness program

By Robyn Harmon - EmployeeBenefit Advisor
July 5, 2011

Implementing a wellness plan is much easier said then done if you want to roll out a successful program. There are key elements necessary for success to happen; the most important being how your company defines success.

What is a successful program for us?

Ask senior level what they expect and by when. The answer to this question will allow you to determine what the program goals should and how aggressive a plan you need to develop. If your senior level want to control health care costs, ask them what is specifically driving the costs.  While you have senior level available, ask them what your budget is for the program, what types of incentives they support and if they will support the program by actively participating as well as sharing success stories.

Write your plan!

Once you know your goals, put the plan in writing. Remember: The document can always be tweaked and should be reviewed regularly. The plan should include your goals, specific programs you plan to implement, communication plan, timeline, how you plan to evaluate movement toward your goals and your incentive strategy. This is a great document to help keep staff on track and to share with your senior level staff.

One size fits one.

You may not know all the answers to complete your plan. If not, ask your employees! Gather feedback from them by implementing an employee interest survey. You can ask your employees what types of programs they would participate in, how often, where and what types of incentives would keep them motivated. In addition, you can ask employees if they would like to be wellness champions or part of a wellness committee. This is a great way to get and keep employees involved in the program, get others excited to participate, and to obtain regular feedback from employees on how the program is going and what they’d like to see. Remember: the program must be a good fit for your employees and your culture to be successful.

Ready, set, launch…

Once you have a structure in place with either a wellness committee and/or champions, your plan is in writing and your budget is set, then you are ready to launch your program. Give yourself plenty of time to communicate with employees and provide them with enough time to ask questions and feel comfortable with the program. This is especially important if you are implementing an outcomes-based program or including spouses in your program. Make sure you monitor participation as you go. If you are working with a vendor program or your health care carrier program, they should provide you with reports on both participation and aggregate reports showing outcomes for each program. If something looks like it isn’t working, address it right away. 

Good luck! And remember, implementing a new program takes time. Ask for feedback as much as you can and share your success with both your senior level management and your employee population. 

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— Robyn Harmon is the assistant vice president and director of Health Risk Management for Lockton Companies.