Worksite wellness programs are becoming the norm in corporate America.  The key to having a successful program is through the creation of a supportive environment in the workplace. As cited by an employee who has both experienced a program that was mandated and then at a later date made optional, but with tools to make it both interesting and inspiring, “ The last program we had was force-fed.  We felt like it was part of our job and not a personal choice. Now we can see management taking strides to support all of us and themselves in creating a culture of healthy living.”

Best practices in the field of worksite health promotion states one of the seven benchmarks of creating a results-oriented worksite wellness program is to create an environment that supports a culture of wellness.  Research shows one factor that heavily weighs the success of a wellness program is having senior management commitment to the experience through personal actions in leadership. This removes, to some degree, the barrier that employees put up because they feel their employer is dictating their personal life choices. The see that management is in the game along side them, also making changes that better their health and quality of life.

Wellness is not a “one-size-fits-all” initiative. Each participant has unique life circumstances, medical histories and risk factors as a result. When there is group level support as well as individualized attention to personal goals setting research shows successful programs are born.

Employers taking the first steps to be well are leaders in the initiative.  Some initiatives that have successfully aided in the transition to creating a culture of health are as follows:

  • Making the workplace smoke-free by putting into place policies that prohibit smoking on the property and implementing a smoking cessation support program
  • Wellness Challenges that engage and motivate. Each campaign centered on increasing physical activity, proper nutrition and better self-care.
  • Offering a steady stream of relevant health-related information and education to employees. This being done to promote on-going excitement and inspiration through the power of knowledge.
  • Sharing success stories and testimonials is one of the easiest ways to engage the heart of the employee that is on the fence about changing their lifestyle. It helps make possibilities real.
  • Implement healthy eating guideline policies to make certain healthful options are always made available in vending machines and all catered company functions. Companies with cafeteria offerings may consider offering a discount on all healthy meal options as well as sharing food-labeling information to encourage making healthy choices.
  • Implement an hourly over-head chime reminder to promote getting up to stretch, move or change position.
  • Start a stairwell program.

Creating an environment of support to the whole employee population, as well as the individual takes time. Each company has its unique needs.  Finding the balance is what will make it work. Happy, healthy, cared for employees have been proven to be more productive. Having a healthy workforce is a powerful tool for success. Let today be the day you take the first steps toward creating a culture of health in your workplace.

By Melissa Naborowsky, RN