Worksite Wellness

Invest in Employee Health

Implement a Worksite Wellness Program to Improve Employee Health

Enrich the physical, mental, emotional and occupational well-being of your employees with a worksite wellness program. Through organized activities and environmental changes, employers can make their workplace more supportive of healthy behaviors like healthy eating, being physically active, managing stress and quitting tobacco. Whether you own a local restaurant or manage a large accounting firm, placing value on your employees’ health inspires a happier, more productive workforce. Investing in the health of your employees makes good business sense for the bottom line. Some of the greatest benefits of a worksite wellness program are decreased healthcare costs, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and improved employee morale and retention rates. Businesses of all sizes can create a culture of wellness. Implementation is easy with a team or committee of employees that can work together on changes that promote good health.

What is Worksite Wellness?

A worksite wellness program is an organized program for employees designed to enrich their physical, mental, emotional and occupational well-being. Worksite wellness programs can be organized through a team or committee of employees that meets to plan activities and environmental changes that promote good health.

Your Organization Size Matters

Worksite wellness programs are beneficial to businesses of all sizes. Whether you own a local poboy shop or manage a large accounting firm, placing value on your employees’ health inspires a happier, more productive workforce. The steps to creating a wellness program and its benefits are consistent no matter the size of your business.

What size is my organization?

  • Small: businesses with 250 employees or less 
  • Medium: businesses with 251 to 999 employees
  • Large: businesses with 1000 or more employees

Support Employees of All Ages

When determining your strategies and work plan, be sure to consider the age of your workforce. The best strategies keep everyone in mind and plan to keep workers healthy over the long haul! Well-Ahead can help you get ideas for incorporating healthy aging into your program and discover resources to care for the caregivers in your employee population.

Seven Steps for Worksite Wellness

This step-by-step worksite wellness guide will walk you through the seven basic steps to creating your own worksite wellness program. You will also find specific tips for implementing each step for your organization’s size. 

In addition, each step represents a WellSpot benchmark that will be achieved once all activities in that step are complete! Becoming a WellSpot is a great way for your organization to receive recognition for and promote the efforts you’re making to invest in the health and wellness of your employees. 

Step 1: Gain Support from Management

People respond to those with influence, credibility and personal connection, which is why it is necessary to engage management in the development and launch of your wellness program. The success of a worksite wellness program depends greatly on the support and participation of business leadership. To get started, explain to leadership that their participation will result in a higher return on investment. Generally, organizations can expect a return on investment of $1.50 for every $1.00 invested in a wellness program. This ROI will be seen in decreased health care costs, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and improved employee morale and retention rates.
Spread the Word

Once leadership is on board, spread the good news! A member of the lead team should communicate the launch of the wellness program. Be sure to include specific information on how you will gather employee feedback, which is outlined in step 3.

Small Organizations

No email to announce your program’s launch? You can use a flyer, attach letters to check stubs, or even use snail mail. 

Medium Organizations

Announce your program launch through email, fliers, attach letters to check stubs or even snail mail!

Large Organizations

You can announce your program through email, but also check out the Louisiana Business Group on Health Toolkit for more ideas. 

Step 2: Determine a Program Coordinator

While organization size will determine who will lead your worksite wellness program, all wellness leaders share the same goal: to promote and encourage participation in your worksite wellness program. Their work should inspire behavior change, which will ultimately create a culture of health and wellness among your workforce. Successful worksite wellness programming requires approximately one to five hours a month.

Leadership Options

  • Wellness Coordinator: The Wellness Coordinator will be responsible for encouraging wellness throughout the business. The coordinator will complete an employee wellness survey, plan, promote and execute program activities and conduct evaluations.
  • Wellness Champion: Wellness champions can be great assets in creating momentum and excitement around your program. A wellness champion is an employee who volunteers to help encourage participation in the worksite wellness program.
  • Wellness Committee: It is recommended that wellness committees are formed by establishing a group of volunteers. If you have utilized wellness champions, you should pull from these champions to form your committee. Once you know who will be on your committee, you will want to send out an introduction letter  or email to your committee members.
Small Organizations

Choose a Wellness Coordinator!

Medium Organizations

Choose a Wellness Coordinator and recruit Wellness Champions. If resources allow, consider a Wellness Committee.

Large Organizations

If resources allow, choose a Wellness Coordinator, recruit Wellness Champions and form a Wellness Committee. You should use Wellness Champions to create a healthy buzz throughout your workforce. Check out the Louisiana Business Group on Health Toolkit for additional information. 

Step 3: Complete an employee assessment

Once your program leadership is established, conduct an employee assessment to gauge your employees’ interests, willingness to participate in your wellness program and current health habits. Encourage them to be honest so your wellness leaders can develop programming that will fit your employees and help them lead healthier lives. Click here for a sample assessment. Print it and use it as is or as a building block to create your own assessment.
Small Organizations

If your business does not have email, print the survey out and distribute it to your team at your next staff meeting or pre-shift huddle! 

Medium Organizations

There are lots of free survey services online—take advantage of them! Create your assessment there, and distribute the link via email.

Large Organizations

Use your organization’s preferred survey software to distribute your assessment. Check out the Louisiana Business Group on Health Toolkit for more extensive information regarding employee assessments.

Step 4: Determine Priorities

Once employees complete the assessment, wellness leaders should use the results to set worksite wellness program priorities. Typically, wellness programs focus on either lifestyle management or disease management, but feel free to incorporate aspects from both.

  • Lifestyle Management Programs have a specific focus on preventing chronic disease through behavior change like physical activity, healthy nutrition, mental health management and tobacco cessation.   
  • Disease Management Programs have a specific focus on reducing or managing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma.
Implementation Strategies

Regardless of the focus you choose, the implementation strategies are the same. Below, learn about each strategy in more detail. Education is the building block of all worksite wellness programs. Team members will not take action if they do not know why they should. Once the foundation is set through (ongoing) education, additional strategies such as activities, environmental change and policy change can be set into motion.

Education is the building block for behavior change. It includes providing participants access to information and knowledge needed to make health and wellness decisions. This method typically includes: educational email blasts, informational flyers and access to health and wellness resources, etc.

Activities take the education provided and help put it into action. This method takes the “why” and combines it with the “how” to produce a realistic and practical step toward long-term goals.  

  • Activities in a lifestyle focused program are things like: wellness challenges, participation in run or walks, participation in onsite or offsite physical activity classes or memberships, participation in onsite or offsite wellness screenings, etc.
  • Activities in a disease management focused program are things like: organizing a diabetes self-management class, planning a seminar that teaches how to conduct chest compressions or having a lunch-and-learn that provides tips on living with asthma.

Environmental change involves taking small steps in your workplace to create a healthier work environment for employees, patients, patrons and visitors. Environmental changes include: healthy vending or provided food options, access to clean drinking water, access to a refrigerator to store employee lunches and snacks, access to a clean space for breastfeeding mothers to pump, etc.

Policy changes can help provide support for the environmental changes made to better employee, patient, patron and visitor’s health and wellness. Policy change that can be accomplished through a worksite wellness program include but are not limited to: tobacco and smoke-free policies, breastfeeding friendly policy, healthy vending policy and healthy meeting policy.  

Small Organizations

Focus on lifestyle management.

Medium Organizations

Focus on lifestyle management and add disease management when and if resources allow.

Large Organizations

If resources allow, your program should encompass both lifestyle and disease management focuses. For more information, use the Louisiana Business Group on Health Toolkit.

Step 5: Develop a Work Plan

Once your priorities are set, it’s time to develop a work plan and event calendar to encourage healthy behaviors. The work plan should aim to improve physical activity, nutrition, tobacco cessation and mental health. As you build your work plan, remember to use your employee assessment results as a guide to ensure the work plan caters to employees’ unique interests.

Build Your Own Work Plan

Low Cost Activities

 

Medium Cost Activities

  • Start and encourage participation in employee recreational sports teams (softball, basketball, soccer, etc). 
  • *Provide discounted or subsidized gym memberships to employees. Resource: YMCA
  • Provide showers and/or changing facilities onsite.  
  • Provide employee walking, biking, and/or running clubs. Resource: How To Begin an Employee Activity Club
  • *Implement physical activity challenges to encourage physical activity during and outside of work such as: steps challenge, minutes of physical activity challenge, etc. Resource: OYOH Challenge

 

High Cost Activities

  • Offer on-site fitness opportunities such as group exercise classes. Resource: Planning Onsite Events
  • *Provide an on-site exercise facility.
  • *Provide incentives for participation in physical activity activities.
  • Provide on-site child care for employees engaging in physical activity. 

 

The asterisk (*) denotes the items with the highest return on investment. Try to incorporate as many of these suggestions as possible!

 

Note: Well-Ahead Louisiana does not take the place of medical advice. Individuals should always consult with a physician prior to starting any exercise or diet regimen.

Low Cost Activities

 

Medium Cost Activities

  • *Provide kitchen equipment for employee food storage and preparation. 
  • Offer local fruits and vegetables at the worksite (farmers market, CSA drop off location). Resources: Farm To WorkBREADACovington Farmers Market
  • Provide on-site gardening.
  • Provide an appropriate place for breastfeeding/pumping. 
  • Provide interactive food activities, such as taste testing and food preparation.
  • *Encourage employees to increase water intake by providing water bottles or refillable water containers in employee refrigerators. 

 

High Cost Activities

  • *Provide incentives for participation in nutrition or weight management/maintenance activities.  
  • Include employee family members in a campaign to promote fruit and vegetable consumption. Resource: Eat Smart, Move More, Weight Less Holiday Challenge
  • Provide lactation education on-site events open to all employees.
  • Provide a Registered Dietitian on-site for nutrition counseling.
  • Offer healthy cooking demonstrations onsite or via web video. Resource: EatRight Videos
  • Schedule an onsite health screening to provide employees with immediate biometric results. These results can include cholesterol, blood sugar, body composition, etc.
  • *In employer provided health plans, provide benefits that include preventative services such as nutrition counseling and chronic disease management.

 

The asterisk (*) denotes the items with the highest return on investment. Try to incorporate as many of these suggestions as possible!

Note: Well-Ahead Louisiana does not take the place of medical advice. Individuals should always consult with a physician prior to starting any exercise or diet regimen.

Remember, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires health insurance plans in the to cover tobacco cessation treatments. Therefore, most health insurance plans offered to employees should provide access to tobacco cessation care. Federal guidance defines tobacco cessation care as:

  • 4 sessions of individual, group and phone counseling
  • 90 days of all FDA-approved smoking cessation medications
  • 2 quit attempts per year
  • No cost-sharing
  • No prior authorization for treatments

To determine if your organization should be implementing these requirements, check out the Affordable Care Act Tobacco Cessation Guidance Toolkit

Low Cost

  • *Establish and implement a comprehensive tobacco-free policy covering the full organization property. 
  • Provide educational messaging regarding the effects of tobacco use and benefits of quitting.   
  • Promote free, accessible smoking services to employees. Resource: Smoking Cessation Trust
  • Offer a free cessation program onsite. For example, with Our Lady of the Lake’s Tobacco Cessation Program, you can host a five-to-seven-week cessation program onsite at no cost. You can also encourage those who want to quit to attend these sessions at a nearby location. Resource: Our Lady of the Lake
  • *Promote the Louisiana Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) through provided quitline resources.
    Resources: Quit Now, Quit With Us, Louisiana Poster

 

Medium Cost

  • *Provide flexible work hours to allow employees to participate in tobacco cessation programming during work time. 
  • Organize a Great American Smokeout event on-site. Resource: ACS Great American Smokeout 
  • Organize a Take Down Tobacco event on-site. Resource: Take Down Tobacco
  • Gather and share testimonials from employees who have quit. Resource: How To Guide

 

High Cost

The asterisk (*) denotes the items with the highest return on investment. Try to incorporate as many of these suggestions as possible!

Note: Well-Ahead Louisiana does not take the place of medical advice. Individuals should always consult with a physician prior to starting any exercise or diet regimen.

Low Cost

 

Medium Cost

  • *Provide stress management activities such as educational workshops on managing work/life balance on-site and flexible work hours to allow participation.
  • Organize on-site sessions on managing stress and work-life balance with local speakers. Resource: Planning Onsite Events
  • Provide yoga classes on-site and flexible work hours to allow participation. Resource: Workplace Yoga/Meditation
  • Seek management support to develop and implement flexible work hours for employees to achieve a healthy, productive work-life balance. Resource: Sample Flex Time Policy
  • *Provide training for supervisors on recognizing and responding to performance issues that may signal distress. 

 

High Cost

  • Organize a day of on-site chair massages. Resource: Planning Onsite Events
  • *Allow employees to access on and off-site support services during work hours. 
  • Provide access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Resource: Work-Life EAP
  • *Provide and maintain comprehensive health insurance coverage which includes mental health screenings and brief intervention and referral (SBIRT) as a covered benefit. 

The asterisk (*) denotes the items with the highest return on investment. Try to incorporate as many of these suggestions as possible!

Note: Well-Ahead Louisiana does not take the place of medical advice. Individuals should always consult with a physician prior to starting any exercise or diet regimen.

Small Organizations

Focus on the low-cost suggestions. When and if resources allow, add in medium-cost suggestions. Be sure to check out the sample event calendar—all of these events are low-cost!

Medium Organizations

If resources allow, you should implement both low-cost and medium-cost suggestions.

Large Organizations

Your program can encompass all suggestions, if resources allow. The Louisiana Business Group on Health Toolkit has even more ideas!

Step 6: Maintain Interest and Motivation

Encouraging and motivating employees is an ongoing goal as the wellness leaders implement the plan in order to maintain interest. Several factors influence health behaviors and should be kept in mind.
  • Time: The more you can work programming and events into an individual’s existing busy schedule, the better your chance for success. For example, create programming or events during work hours instead of after-hours to maximize interest and ability to participate.
  • Access: Make events and activities convenient.
  • Knowledge: People want to know “why,” “what” and “how to.”
  • Cost: Make program components free or cost-efficient to be inclusive and motivate participation.
  • Testimonials: Success stories encourage others to make behavioral changes and are a great way to ignite conversation between coworkers.
  • Incentives: Incentives help maintain program interest and participation rates. Significant incentives such as cash or health insurance rebates have proven to be strong motivators for employee participation. Other popular incentive options include: raffles, paid time off, flexible working hours, HRA/FSA contribution, jean days and employee recognition.
Incentive Options

Programs with a limited budget can utilize the following incentives to help boost participation and interest. On average, these types of incentives can expect a participation rate of approximately 10-20%.

  • Achievement Awards: employee achievement certificate for meeting milestones in the wellness program.
  • Public Recognition: employee of the month or quarter for the wellness program
  • Casual Dress Days
  • Reserved Parking Spots

Programs with some budget, can utilize the following incentives to help boost participation and interest. On average, these types of incentives can expect a participation rate of approximately 40%.

  • Merchandise: Program branded t-shirts or other trinkets (water bottles, Tupperware, ice chests, etc.) for attending events.
  • Lower-cost gift cards
Small Organizations

Implement low-cost incentives.

Medium Organizations

Incorporate low-cost incentives and use the medium-cost suggestions as resources allow.

Large Organizations

Incorporate any of the low- or medium-cost incentives, but see the Louisiana Business Group on Health Toolkit for even more ideas!

Step 7: Evaluate the Program

Evaluate your wellness program regularly to ensure it is helping and motivating employees.

Ongoing Program Evaluation

Check out our ongoing program evaluation that you can tailor to fit your organization. Regularly evaluate worksite wellness to ensure the effectiveness of program strategies. Ongoing evaluations can include things like:

  • Participant satisfaction survey results after activities
  • Tracking employee participation in activities or using provided resources
  • Tracking the number of healthy items purchased in vending machines
  • Informal observation of changes in health culture, work environment or policy changes
End-of-the-Year Program Evaluation

Conduct an annual assessment to evaluate the impact of your program and help plan for the next year. Questions should be similar to the prior year’s assessment so that responses can be compared and help wellness leaders determine the program’s impact. Check out our end of year program evaluation. Print it and use it as is or as a building block to create your own.

Small Organizations

Participant satisfaction surveys can be as simple as asking participants what they thought about activities right after they’re completed. If employees prefer to give anonymous feedback, you can ask them to fill out pen and paper surveys. You can also use a pen and paper survey for your yearly evaluation.

Medium Organizations

Consider using a free online survey tool to email survey links to employees and gather your data digitally. This is an easy way to store and track responses over time.

Large Organizations

Most health care providers offer HRAs. This will allow you to compare biometric screening results. Check out the Louisiana Business Group on Health Toolkit for more extensive information regarding program evaluation.

Well-Ahead Louisiana is not responsible for the legal considerations regarding implementation of an organization’s worksite wellness program. The guidelines included in this section are intended to offer general education, samples and best practices in order to carry out a worksite wellness program. It is recommended that organizations consult with a benefit advisor or legal counsel to address any potential legal concerns.

Resources