You now have a good idea of what “best practice” wellness programs can look like. You’ve received your survey feedback from both management and individuals and you’ve ranked this information by importance, reflecting employees’ choices. Now you’re ready to shape your wellness program to meet the needs and desires of your workforce.
What assurances do you have that your wellness program will be successful? According to Timothy Evans, “Encouragement is positive feedback that focuses primarily on effort or improvement rather than outcomes.” If you encourage your employees to improve their health status, regardless of whether or not the individual was successful in fulfilling his or her goal, you have achieved a successful wellness program.
A supportive environment provides employees with encouragement, opportunity, and rewards. A culture that supports worksite health promotion might feature vending machines with healthy food choices, a no-smoking policy and flexible work schedules that allow workers to exercise. A workplace that values health will celebrate and reward achievements with a management team that models healthy behavior. Most important, a culture of health involves employees in every aspect of the wellness program from design and promotion through implementation and evaluation.
What incentives make a difference to your employees? Encouragement is a key element in promoting and activating “social interest” in individuals (Griffith & Powers, 1984). Along with social interest, encouragement also develops “psychological hardiness” in the individual. Psychological hardiness is recognized as a personality characteristic that effectively buffers stress, allowing the individual to function adequately and cope with life’s challenges in a way that creates meaning and purpose in life (Kobasa, 1979).
Through the survey your employees should have stated whether they are more likely to respond to lifestyle or financial incentives. The sky is the limit. Use your creativity.
Lifestyle incentives include: gift certificates, health food store or child care coupons, gym reimbursement, travel vouchers and personal items like massage and pedicures, etc.
Financial incentives include: paid days off, premium deductions, cash bonus, etc.
Focus on your employee’s effort or improvement. Here are a few ways you can do this.
· Write stories and take snapshots of the team of employees who walk the foot trail you have taped off in the plant.
· Acknowledge the employee who has a great attendance record and a positive attitude about their employment.
· Hand out the rewards at your annual picnic or party.
Build your team. Also focus on the strengths and assets of your employees, no matter who they are, for example, give the employee who’s always criticizing the program power over managing that program. Unleash the positive attitude of employees who earnestly want the program to succeed by making them your cheerleaders. Turn the focus on individual assets and strengths of your employees, encouraging them with the right incentives, focus on the effort or improvement and you will see the success of your wellness program.
Points for Activities – Wellness Program Example
Joe works for your company and your wellness program includes a “points” for activities program. Joe attends four health classes and receives 4 points toward a year-end reward.
Joe had his blood pressure taken each month and earns 5 points for this activity. Joe also began exercising through classes you offered. Because exercise requires more time, Joe earns 20 points for each quarterly program he completes. Your company also provides free health screenings once per year and Joe earned 10 points for participating.
At the end of the year, Joe earned 94 points worth $470. Joe can now “cash in” his points and decides to “spend” 50 points on a gift card, and the remainder on a gym membership. In addition to earning incentives, she is aware of her health status, is taking steps to maintain good health and looks forward to the upcoming year’s wellness activities.
Mary S. Gogel, RN, MSN, MBA
Brown & Brown of Louisville