What Is An Employee Wellness Program?

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An employee wellness program is a set of initiatives ranging from fitness challenges, to health screenings and flu shot clinics that seek to improve the overall health of the people working at a company. Wellness programs are malleable, shaped primarily by the needs of the employees and resources of the company.

Larger companies may have more elaborate wellness programs to satisfy a larger and more diverse group of employees, in addition to access to more capital to fund their initiatives. Alternatively, smaller companies can take advantage of personalization to capture the interests of their teams.

A great example of this is Google’s commitment to the health of their massive 10k+ employee base with their People & Innovation Lab where they apply science to organizational problems, including promoting a healthier workforce. In contrast to a company like KIND, who has about 700 employees and offers them a “wellness room” to rejuvenate throughout the day.

Each of the previous examples are successful, yet they are vastly different. What they have in common is a few essential elements that provide employees with useful and effective resources.


What Are The Essential Components of an Employee Wellness Program?

Surveying – Reaching out to employees in order to find out what health and wellness concerns they may have, especially those related to work. There are a number of factors in the workplace that can contribute to poor health like stress, burnout, and remaining stationary for hours on end. Finding a common thread can help promote inclusion to a wider range of employees.

Planning – This is the process of taking the data and insights from the survey and using them to structure offerings that directly address those concerns. For example, one of the major issues in your office is employees who feel overworked and overstressed. Build mental health days or flexible work hours into your wellness program to meet this issue head-on.

Goals – It’s important to be clear on the desired benefits of instituting a wellness initiative, from there you can assign key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs for a wellness initiative can be tied to business goals. It can be as simple as observing if there are fewer instances of absenteeism since you implemented the work-from-home policy and even potentially tying that to a dollar amount.

In addition to company goals, create milestones for individual employees.  Employees are more invested in goals as they relate to their own well-being. These offer the opportunity for your team to internalize the goal and track their own progress throughout.

Tracking – Follow the progress of the team and individuals against the goals and KPIs you’ve set with their input. Use regular recognition to reinforce the successes of the individual and the group.

Not only does tracking the wellness journey offer tangible results and promote accountability, it also provides points of justification. If a program isn’t working you’ll be able to tell before it wastes resources. And if it does work, you’ll be able to show leadership how and perhaps why.

Participation – This is simple. Are employees actually taking advantage of the program’s offerings? It’s likely the most important factor in gauging the success of any wellness initiative.

If your team isn’t taking advantage of the program’s initiatives, it’s safe to say that something doesn’t resonate with them and you should resort back to the planning phase.

Recalibration – This should be a continuous and fluid process. If your program is working, then you should be thinking of how you can make it better or how you can apply what you’ve learned to your next initiative. If it’s not working, you should think about why and how you can tweak it so that it will become more relevant to employees.

An employee wellness program should function like a living process, rather than a rigid set of activities. The programs should change and evolve with the people they’re meant to serve.


Check out these helpful corporate wellness resources for additional info: