“People don’t want wellness done to them. They don’t want to be told how to be well. They want wellness done with and for them. They have to be a part of the collaborative process to make sure you (the employer) are meeting their (employees’) needs,” said Ryan Picarella, CEO of the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA).
Picarella, joined by Maddison Bezdicek of Captive Resources, discussed how employers can develop and sustain successful wellness programs using seven benchmarks in our recent Health Risk Management webinar.
Continue reading for a recap of the seven benchmarks discussed during Picarella and Bezdicek’s conversation.
According to Picarella, a successful wellness initiative starts with committed and aligned leadership. Organization leaders need to understand the short and long-term goals of the company’s wellness initiatives and commit to encouraging and supporting the program. When employees see leadership actively participating in the wellness program, they will be encouraged to participate as well.
When discussing WELCOA’s second benchmark, Picarella provided a specific example to emphasize the importance of collaboration.
Recently, an organization built a beautiful new fitness center for its employees to exercise in, but no one used it. When the organization’s leadership team asked employees why they were not using the fitness center, a majority of employees said they were worried their managers would think they were not getting their work done. By collecting this feedback, managers were able to encourage their employees to use the facility and dispel fears that it would be frowned upon.
According to Picarella, if organizations want their employees to utilize wellness program resources, they need first to figure out what their employees want and need through intentional communication and collaboration.
According to Picarella, successful wellness initiatives don’t happen overnight. To develop an effective wellness strategy, employers need to consistently gather feedback from their employees to figure out what’s working and what’s not.
Picarella encouraged employers to think about two things:
Picarella recommended putting your wellness plan on paper. The document will act as a roadmap, keeping employers on track and aligned with the long-term goals of the initiative.
According to Picarella, employers often make the mistake of starting their organization’s wellness journey at benchmark five.
Before employers choose an initiative, they need to gather feedback from their employees and pick a strategy that suits the majority’s needs. According to Picarella, the employer can’t pick an initiative on the employees’ behalf and assume it will meet their needs. In fact, Picarella said it’s important to factor in the location and job functions of employees when developing wellness initiatives. Some employees’ needs may be different than others and should be considered.
To sustain an effective wellness program, it’s crucial for employers to be intentional about the initiatives they choose. It's important for employers to ask themselves if the company’s wellness program is really benefiting employees or if they are just checking a box.
According to Picarella, feedback and communication are two of the most important things an employer can do to ensure that a wellness program is successful.
At the end of the year, Picarella said employers should ask employees what they liked and didn’t like about the year’s wellness initiatives. Picarella also said it’s important to celebrate and communicate the success of the program to employees while encouraging them to continue utilizing the program’s resources.
When implemented correctly, wellness initiatives can better the lives of employees while improving the organization as a whole. Through collaboration, intentional communication, and aligned leadership, organizations can develop effective wellness programs that have the power to positively impact the organization for years to come.
Interested in learning more? Visit WELCOA’s website to utilize the many resources it has available.
This presentation was part of Captive Resources’ Medical Stop Loss Webinar Series — regular installments of webinars to educate medical stop loss group captive members. The thoughts and opinions expressed in these webinars are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect Captive Resources’ positions on any of the above topics.