Health and Wellness Program Planning Pitfalls

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The trend of increased Health and Wellness programing for both small and large organizations is continuing to grow.  We have more and more clients looking to us for assistance in providing Health and Wellness related content and programing to their employee groups.  There are a number of things an organization should think about prior to implementing their Health and Wellness plan in order to avoid some common pitfalls.

Potential Pitfalls to address in planning:

1. Relevance – It is important that employers focus on programing and activities that are relevant to their workforce.  It can be easy to get caught up in flashy health programs or intense food and health regimens but organizations must consider if that will work for their workforce.  For instance, the average person might need education and assistance on the basics of improving their overall quality of food consumption.  If the speaker brought in focuses on a very intense eating program such as removing all dairy or carbohydrates, employees may feel intimidated or turned off.  Start simple and basic if that reflects the needs of your group.

2. Sustainability – This is something we address from time to time.  An organization is very enthusiastic about kicking off a Health and Wellness program for their employees. They start big and provide an enormous number of activities, education and resources at the beginning, only to find that they are not able to sustain such a rigorous amount of content and programing.  Following a major push, they find they have to scale back in order to keep the group engaged or they stop the program all together.  We recommend organizations start small and build their program over time to ensure that it will be sustainable in the long run.

3. Support from Leadership – It is important for there to be support from the top down.  Occasionally we see situations where employees are encouraged to attend Health and Wellness workshops or participate in activities, but because their direct leader doesn’t participate or hasn’t specifically encouraged the team to attend the activity, the employee feels they shouldn’t leave their desk for the hour.  When leadership makes their support clear, employees feel comfortable leaving their regular work for an hour to participate in a workshop or activity.

4. Actions following a Survey of employees – Many organizations ask their employees to complete survey’s to gain insight into the types of Health and Wellness activities employees would like to participate in.  This is a great practice and can lead to employee engagement in the planning process. However, it is crucial that organizations act on the feedback they receive from employees.  Avoid sending out a survey until your organization is actually prepared to action on the feedback.  Also consider the questions posed to ensure you receive meaningful feedback the organization can execute on.  Too many open ended questions will lead to feedback that may be impossible for the organization to incorporate into their Health and Wellness Program.

Consider engaging a Health and Wellness committee in your organization to help spread the workload, ensure support at all levels, ensure relevance and manage feedback.  Health and Wellness programing done well can have an enormous impact on employee engagement, health and work/life balance.