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Steps to Get Started: Workplace Wellness

Planning a worksite health promotion program can be a rewarding experience for company leaders and other employees.  Whether a business decides to develop a comprehensive worksite health promotion program all at once or begin with a few ongoing health promotion activities, it will be helpful to use a planning process.  This will help to ensure the success of any health promotion program regardless of the number of employees.

1.  Establish a Planning Committee

The committee should include potential program participants, individuals who may have a role in program implementation or evaluation, individuals familiar with budgeting, a person responsible for contracting with outside vendors, and someone to represent management.

The planning committee serves several functions.

1.  An employee driven committee encourages “buy-in” from both management and potential program participants.

2.  The committee will help assure that the program is responsive to the needs of all potential participants.

3.  The committee will be responsible for carrying out or overseeing the rest of the steps in the planning process.
     
2.  Assess the Interests and Needs of Leaders and Employees

Businesses of all sizes will want to address the questions below.  The Assessment Chapter in the toolkit provides examples of assessment tools that answer these questions and are appropriate for small or large businesses.  The assessment may address the following questions:

?  Are managers willing to take part in the program and encourage others to do so?

?  What do they see as the benefits of the program for employees and the organization?

?  What kinds of activities are they willing to allow?

?  What is the level of employee interest in various types of health promotion activities, the most convenient times and places to schedule activities, and/or suggested organizational changes to promote a more healthful work environment?

Assessment also includes a health risk appraisal (HRA) to determine current employee disease risks, learn the level of interest in changing unhealthy behaviors and collect baseline data that can later be used to help evaluate the program.  The planning committee may wish to periodically assess how well the organization is doing to support healthy behaviors on and off the job.  Repeating the same survey over several years can help program planners evaluate the impact of specific organizational changes.  It can also keep management interested in ongoing health promotion activities. 

3.  Develop Goal and Objectives to Design Programs

Based on the results from the employee interest survey and the Health Risk Appraisal surveys the committee should discuss who will do what, when, and how in regards to designing the programs to be implemented. 

4.  Implement a Program/Template

Program implementation involves putting the plan into action.  It may necessitate making arrangements with health promotion vendors, recruiting speakers, negotiating with health plans or health clubs, scheduling health promotion activities and more.  Below are some steps in implementing wellness programs. 

•  Plan a Kickoff event: Order healthy snacks or have a brown bag lunch; Arrange for speakers; Choose location; Prepare materials such as log sheets/books, instruction sheets; Determine how long you will collect data using logs sheets, on-line forms, etc.

•  Hold a Kickoff Event: Create a fun, festive atmosphere (balloons, decorations); Provide participants with details of program log sheets, contests, or events; Provide participants with a list of upcoming physical activity events

•  Provide weekly reminders to increase steps and decrease calories using email, newsletters, or posted signs in and around the worksite

•  Ask participants to share ideas and stories through the company newsletter

•  Consider holding a “halfway there” event at 6-7 weeks: Give prizes for progress to date; Recognize individuals or groups; Set up opportunity for sharing.

Remember, this is only the beginning.  Starting with simple fun activities will lead to more progress than trying to do everything at once.  Keep your messages and goals small and attainable.  Keep moving forward with new ideas to constantly refresh your program. 

5. Determine Success/Reassess

Periodically review a program to determine its efficiency and effectiveness.  A good program evaluation looks at information to learn both how well the program is working (program measures) and whether or not it is achieving expected results (outcome measures).  Program costs and outcomes can also be compared.  Occasional modifications based on these reviews can ensure that a program is following a course that leads to success.