Successful wellness programs involve leadership, stress management: report

Organizations that involve organizational leadership in their wellness programs and offer stress management within the program are more likely to notice a positive effect on health-care costs and higher employee participation rates, according to a new report by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

Looking at specific actions, the report compared successful wellness programs with those that are less successful. Among the most successful programs, 57 per cent involve organizational leadership and 54 per cent have leaders communicating to employees about wellness. On the other hand, among less effective wellness programs, just 36 per cent involve organizational leadership and 37 per cent have their leaders communicating with employees.

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The report also found 63 per cent of organizations that have seen a boost in employee satisfaction and engagement with their wellness programs involve organizational leadership, compared to 37 per cent of those with less successful programming.

“Whether a workplace wellness program is taking a more holistic approach or focusing on cost savings, this report distinctly revealed that it’s not only leadership support but, more specifically, leadership’s communication of the program to staff that is critical for program success,” said Julie Stich, associate vice-president of content at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, in a news release.

Almost half of organizations that have seen a positive effect on their health-care costs also encourage stress management programs as part of their wellness plan, but only 21 per cent of those with less successful programming do so, according to the report.

The most effective wellness programs include wellness competitions (83 per cent), nutrition counselling (63 per cent), fitness programs (60 per cent), wellness seminars and health fairs (53 per cent) and health screening (52 per cent). These offerings are far less prevalent among less successful wellness programs.

Read: Only one third of Canadian employers have wellness strategies in place