Did you know that a quarter of a company’s lost revenue can be attributed to decreased productivity, absenteeism, and the medical and pharmaceutical costs of lifestyle and modifiable behavior choices? Knowing that, it is easy to see why many organizations have, or are considering, implementing employee wellness programs that support both employee health and organizational goals. This will become even more relevant as many organizations look forward to the recovery stages of the global pandemic―how it has impacted the wellbeing of their employees and how they can support them as an organization.

Today, Alberta Blue Cross® prioritizes employee wellness programing.  However, when we started our wellness journey, we weren’t unlike many other organizations—we knew where we wanted to go but were struggling on how to get there. Since those early days, we have prioritized and invested in our wellness strategy and built an award-winning culture of wellness. Now we are committed to helping other organizations achieve the same.

As part of that commitment we recently commissioned a study to explore the factors that promote and inhibit the uptake and implementation of wellness programs within organizations. From the study findings we developed a white paper which organizations can use as a resource to begin their wellness journey. While you can access the full paper here, below is a sample about the steps and considerations fundamental to building a successful wellness plan.

Step 1: Define wellness

Set a definition of what wellness means to the company, involving a diverse set of voices from all levels of the company.

  • What does it encompass?
  • Why is it important to the company?
  • Who are the primary stakeholders?
  • Do you have support from the executive team on direction as well as both inputs and outputs expected with wellness?
  • Have you engaged all departments in defining what wellness means to them, what their most pressing needs are and gaps or areas of concern?
  • Have you chosen a theme to drive an internal wellness strategy?
  • Is it relatable and relevant to your employees?

Step 2: Create a corporate strategic plan for wellness

Include input from across the organization, develop a strategic wellness plan with well-defined objectives that supports employee wellness and organizational goals.

  • Is there participation from a diverse set of employees (working area, pay structure, full/part time, gender and age)?
  • Has an external evaluation (environmental scan) of wellness programs outside the company been performed?
  • Has an internal evaluation of wellness programs inside the company been performed?
  • Have the mission, vision and value statements been established?
  • Have detailed wellness goals of the company been created?
  • Has an operational structure to achieve these goals been developed?
  • Is the strategic wellness plan aligned with the strategic plan of the company and the company’s bottom line?
  • Can the corporate strategic plan for wellness be effectively communicated to all employees?

Step 3: Leadership training and modelling

Ensure there is understanding and consensus across leadership on what wellness is, its purpose and goals and its importance to the organization.

  • What education for leadership would be required to inform on their unique role and influence on the company’s wellness strategy?
  • Is the leadership team taught and supported on how to model the desired behaviours?
  • Is additional training to support employees (such as mental health training) needed for the leadership?
  • How will leadership communicate the value of wellness and the desired outcomes for clarity of vision to all?

Step 4: Company communication plan

Develop a comprehensive communication plan with clear objectives and a variety of tools and tactics to reach diverse employees.

  • What are the most effective ways to disseminate information on corporate wellness strategies in the company? (such as company newsletters, company intranet and staff meetings)
  • Who needs to be involved in the communication plan?
  • Are we reaching all areas and employees of the company?
  • Have we created a measure to ensure maximum awareness of wellness programs?
  • How can you socialize the idea of achieving a wellness-focused culture to all departments?
  • How can you build this message in the recruitment and onboarding, as well as ongoing professional development of potential and current employees?

Step 5: Evaluation

Define what success looks like and make sure evaluation considers feedback from all employees.

  • Are the proposed programs’ impacts being measured based on goals determined in the strategic plan (for example, participation, behavioural change, enjoyment and engagement, healthy outcomes, satisfaction, cost containment and human resources metrics)?
  • Do the measures allow for both positive and negative feedback?
  • Are measures capturing the responses of individuals who participate and those that do not?
  • Has a committee or group of employees been established to review feedback on a consistent basis and make appropriate changes to programs or inform strategy?
  • How are key stakeholders informed of evaluation data and how are refinements executed?

If you are interested in further exploring the benefits and implementation of employee wellness programs, you can find the full white paper here. To discuss these findings or how Alberta Blue Cross® can support your organizational wellness, please reach out to wellness@ab.bluecross.ca.

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