The components of a successful workplace wellness program are fairly straightforward and can be implemented within any organization committed to reaching their objectives. Executive support is a must, and having a dedicated resource monitoring the program is definitely an asset. Maintaining ongoing momentum with the program, however, can be a challenge.
Employee satisfaction with the program content ensures their engagement in activities and, in turn, the program’s success, but the element causing that satisfaction is often a mystery. One way to solve the mystery is simply to ask for, and listen to, the responses from your employees.
Creating an efficient, direct line of communication to and from all facets of your employee population is recommended and achievable through forming an employee wellness committee. When consisting of representation from all departments and positions within the organization, a wellness committee acts as a sounding board for the chair or wellness program coordinator and provides feedback from their respective areas on wellness objectives and initiatives. This feedback could include the methods in which employees prefer to receive their information (in-person meetings, emails, webinars or brochures/pamphlets), what types of incentives will be successful and wellness topics of interest.
Including executive and management employees in the committee is an ideal way to demonstrate support for the wellness program’s objectives. These members may not need to participate in regular committee meetings but must have a presence for any major committee decisions and when communicating initiatives to the rest of the staff.
Having full representation and engaged members on the committee means that the program content will stay fresh and always reflective of employees’ wants and needs, and that the program has champions overseeing each area of the organization. These champions should be encouraged to apply positive peer pressure to the employees in their respective departments/locations to promote and maintain participation in the various opportunities provided through the program.
There is, of course, the cautionary adage: “too many cooks in the kitchen.” This could and often does apply to most committees. Should your organization include a large number of locations and/or departments, it would be wise to evaluate if “regional champions” should be requested to keep committee numbers manageable while still maintaining the connection to each employee.
Ideally, committee members should have some personal passion for health and wellness—unenthused members make poor champions and end up working against the committee so the champion role should be filled by a volunteer and not assigned. An inspired committee member can reach more than their immediate department and should be encouraged to do so, rather than force commitment from all departments and locations when the right fit for a champion just doesn’t exist at this point.
Set a limit to the term each committee member can serve; two to three years would be a recommended maximum. Any longer and the member can become complacent. Fresh perspectives are often needed.
Provide your committee members with parameters to work within but also the freedom and authority to execute how they see fit. A budget and who’s responsible for it is the first piece of information that should be given to the committee, followed with the wellness objectives approved and supported by any executive stakeholders.
The committee’s strengths will be in executing the communication strategy beginning with the program launch and including constant and consistent information about the program content. Leveraging their roles within the various departments and locations, your committee will maximize participation in the activities and monitor progress so the program content can be adjusted to align with employee health-risk areas.
If built with these points in mind, your employee wellness committee will truly champion your workplace wellness program and provide you with significant return on your organization’s investment in employee wellness.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Benefits Canada.