Design a wellness program

Step 2: Design the nuts and bolts of the program

Man working beside bike in officeAfter you've gathered data and identified potential goals, it’s time to formulate a plan. Start by contacting individuals at your organization who are committed to employee health. A good wellness program – powered by an active wellness committee – helps improve the health of your workforce in the short-term and serves as the blueprint for longer-term sustainability. In addition to the wellness committee, your plan should include the following:

Choose a theme

Picking the right topic for your program is crucial to its success. For instance, don’t offer a smoking cessation campaign if tobacco use is a non-issue. Assess the baseline data gathered in Step 1 to determine which campaign will yield the greatest benefit to your employees.

Draft a wellness committee charter

The team charter will help set the direction of your wellness committee, establishing boundaries for what the committee will and will not do. The charter contains the mission statement, also known as a program purpose statement, which is a broad description of the wellness program. The mission statement should include the program name, goals, who will benefit and how they will benefit. Here are examples of mission statements:

The purpose of [name of program] is to provide activities and resources that promote a culture of health and wellness in the workplace, improving the quality of life and reducing health care expenses for all.

Our [name of program] is designed to improve the health of all employees and to reduce/eliminate issues affecting our health and work productivity. Our program seeks to motivate employees to adopt healthier behaviors and provide opportunities that foster positive lifestyle changes.

Establish SMART program goals

Your mission statement may be broad, but goals should be clear and precise. Goals are based on information gathered in Step 1. To ensure success, create SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Here are some examples:

  • Start a weekly walking program within three months of the program's launch.
  • Reduce the number of employees who smoke by X percent within a specific time period.
  • Offer healthy options in the vending machines within X months of the program's launch.

Here are examples of goals to set during the first few years:

Year 1 Goals  Year 2 Goals Year 3 Goals
  • Recruit 8 to 10 members from multiple divisions within the company and establish a wellness committee.
  • By end of year one, complete an employee survey of wellness needs and interests.
  • Reduce the number of employees who smoke by 5 percent.
  • By end of year two, 90 percent of employees will have completed a personal health assessment.
  • Reduce the overall use of sick leave by at least 2 percent from the previous year.
  • By end of year three, 70 percent of employees will have seen their provider for an annual wellness visit.

Develop a communication plan

Knowing how employees prefer to receive information is critical for effective communication. Information gathered from the employee interest survey (PDF)  may inform how you communicate about your wellness program. Popular communication strategies include:

  • Email messages
  • Fliers and brochures
  • Announcements at staff meetings
  • Paycheck stuffers
  • Social media

Keep baseline data for evaluation

Without baseline data, you cannot accurately assess the program’s success, and you won't know what changes to make for the future. We recommend evaluating your program after year one, and then continuing to do so every one or two years. Data can be gathered in a variety of ways including:

  • Employee satisfaction surveys (PDF)
  • Evaluation forms given after classes or seminars
  • Tracking program costs, including staff time, prizes/incentives, fees for external service providers, etc.
  • Suggestion box
  • Sign-in sheets at activities or events
  • Aggregate reports from personal health assessments and/or biometric screenings
  • Utilization and engagement reporting from Providence Health Plan

Your employees may be interested in your findings. If you see positive results, share (and celebrate!) with your employees. Positive feedback can encourage and motivate healthy behaviors. If results aren't as good as you'd like them to be, don't get discouraged. Sometimes it can take a few years for a program to become effective. Stick with it, and reevaluate how it's going the following year.

Create a budget

Some organizations host successful wellness programs with minimal budgets. If you have access to a bigger budget, dedicate resources to pay for marketing collateral, incentives and events. (We’ll talk more about these expenses in Step 3.) A little investment might go a long way to create a more robust wellness program.

After you design your wellness campaign, get ready to unveil your program.

Step 3: Engage your employees ›