people at work celebrating
people at work celebrating

Wellness used to be a word associated with services that made a person feel good, and a Workplace Wellness Program used to be a soft, mushy, nice-to-have addition typically aimed at changing or supporting individual employee behaviours (i.e. fitness offerings or funding, smoking cessation, flu shots, etcetera.). However, recently, wellness has taken on a whole new identity grounded in solid research and experience of the business community around the world.

The ROI of a Workplace Wellness Program

Today, workplace wellness programs are shown to deliver high return on investment, and contribute to the economic success of an organization.  Much of the research is being published through joint projects between University business schools and public health, safety, or insurance companies.  The results? An emergence of resources to help employers understand the impact of effective workplace wellness programs, and more importantly, easy-to-use tools and processes to build them.

Building Your Own Effective Wellness Program

There are many approaches to designing a workplace wellness program.  Successful programs include: alignment with corporate culture, address to the specific needs of the workforce and corporation, involved employees, and a structured process (more on the components of a healthy workplace here). My favourite tool for building a workplace wellness program is the Workplace Health Model developed by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Their Workplace Health Model involves a circular, four step process that is easy to follow and can be used in a variety of industries and sizes of company:

Step 1: Workplace Health Assessment: An effective assessment involves gathering information of your existing wellness programs and the needs within your organization.

Step 2: Planning the Program: A successful planning requires support from management, establishes communication plans to ensure all levels of the organization are aware and involved, defines specific goals, and identifies the needed resources to deliver the program.

Step 3: Implementing the Program: When you’ve completed the first two steps, then comes implementation. This needs to go smoothly if you want your new program to have uptake. Take this step to decide on timelines and schedule for your pilot project and the full program.

Step 4: Evaluation: Evaluation is the most important step in this 4 step process. It will measure the impact and benefit of your program, showing you if and how it works.

This Workplace Health Model is designed in a circular structure so you will repeat steps 1-4 once your program is in place.

For a more detailed version, click here.

Next Steps

Knowing you have to integrate an effective workplace wellness program in your company is not new news, however knowing how to start, carry out, measure and improve your program can be a challenge. That’s why there are resources like the ones above for you to use. You don’t have to go about this alone, but you have to get started. The health, sustainability and productivity of your workforce rely on it.

Another strong resource I want to offer you is a nine-week Workplace Wellness course, that I will be teaching out of SFU this fall. From assessment to implementation learn easy, practical approaches to building a wellness program for your workplace and create a happier, healthier and more productive workplace in no time.

Diana Vissers is the Founder and Director of Corporate Services at Work to Wellness Rehabilitation Inc. – a Canadian company providing expert disability management services to Canadian customers. She is in the business of making your place of business healthy, safe and productive. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for the latest news and updates on health, wellness and integrated disability management.