How to launch a staff wellness program

How to launch a staff wellness program

Having a fit and healthy staff is good news for them-and it’s good for business too. Employees who are in the best physical condition they can be tend to take fewer sick days, have more energy, and set a good example for one another and for patients. Would your team benefit from some in-office motivation to help them lose a few pounds, exercise more regularly, pay closer attention to their nutrition, or stop smoking? If so, consider a staff wellness program.

There are a number of companies around the country that coordinate wellness programs for organizations. If your office is relatively small, however, you can likely set something up on your own to meet the needs of your staff. Here are some quick ideas to launch and run a wellness program.

First of all, gauge the interest of your staff. Don’t make the mistake of dictating to staff that they’re all about to get healthier because you think they should. Survey members of the team to find out what they would be interested in if you were to offer a wellness program. Options might include:

Free or discounted gym memberships

If your office has a Gold’s Gym®, Bally Total Fitness, Curves®, or a similar workout facility nearby, considering buying or subsidizing memberships for your staff. Be careful with this one-gyms are packed with well-intentioned people every January who give up on improving their fitness within days or weeks. If you commit to even three-month membership packages, build accountability into your plan that will help motivate employees to stick with their exercise regimens.

WeightWatchers® memberships

There are numerous commercial weight loss plans out there, and WeightWatchers® is probably the best known and most widely available. They offer meetings in most communities and have an online option as well. The same concept and caveats apply here as with gym memberships.

Lunch hour or after-work walking

A brisk 15-minute walk during the lunch hour five days a week adds up to a significant number of steps. Tack on another 15, 30, or 45 minute walk after work, and suddenly you’re logging several miles a week. Purchase pedometers for everyone who wants to participate in a regular walking program and design a friendly competition to encourage employees (or small teams) to put on their sneakers and find the nearest safe walking route.

Incentives to exercise, lose weight, or stop smoking

If you decide to use an incentive plan as part of your program, make it unique to your staff. Some employees might be motivated to track steps taken, pounds lost, or hours exercised in exchange for rewards as varied as small chunks of time off with pay, modest gift cards, group outings, or simple recognition as “the winner” for the week or month. Find out what would most encourage your staff, and change the incentives periodically to keep things interesting.

A healthy, positive environment. This is a less measurable but equally important part of a wellness program. If everyone is pretty much on board with the idea that fit and healthy is better than sluggish and ill, declare you office off-limits to junk food, soda, and negative talk related to weight or body image. Swimming in a pool of positive energy is good medicine.