- Create an organizational culture that promotes health and wellness. Building a healthy organizational culture involves both the physical work structure and the employees’ perception of the work environment. The work environment includes the physical characteristics of the workplace, such as safety policies, noise levels, lighting, air quality, and ergonomically adapted equipment and furniture. The work environment also includes healthy eating options and updated cafeteria menus, smoke-free policies, and opportunities for physical activity.
- Ensure policies enhance employee health and productivity. The scope and type of company policies reflect an organization’s philosophy and commitment to employee health and well-being. These policies should align with and support your health and wellness goals. Examples of these policies include rules on smoking, drug testing, sick and personal leave, disability insurance, health care benefits, and vacation policies. Of all the benefits employers offer, health care benefits are arguably the most financially and politically challenging in today’s economy. As you assess your organization’s health and work behaviour policies, including the employee health plan options, take some time to gauge what is working, what is not working, and what employees like and dislike. Since the employee benefits package is likely the most visible policy in your organization, it is a good place to start.
- Offer incentives that motivate employees to engage in healthy practices. Most employers that offer wellness programs use some type of incentive to drive employee participation, and nearly two-thirds of these are financial incentives. Whatever incentive structure you design, it is vital to establish appropriate standards for employees to meet to earn incentives. To be successful, the incentive must target the primary behaviours that influence wellness. Keep in mind these guidelines when implementing incentive programs:
a. Reward realistically achievable behaviours.
- Make incentive-targeted programs easily available to employees.
- Provide employees with regular feedback regarding progress toward incentives.
- Create wellness programming that includes customized employee-centric health programs. Today, more than 80 per cent of America’s businesses with 50 or more employees offer some form of employee wellness program or activity. The table on the next page includes the most common features of a comprehensive worksite wellness program.
- Integrate HR functions with employee wellness and work-life quality initiatives. The greatest influence on the overall success of your organization’s health management performance is the collective ability of HR, benefits, wellness, safety, medical and other managers to work together. HR directors and wellness personnel should simultaneously explore potential integrated strategies to align the organization’s culture, health benefits, wellness programs, policies and incentives. They must continually monitor each of these factors to ensure they are consistently encouraging and supporting a healthy and productive workforce.
An organization’s health and prosperity is directly influenced by the health and well-being of its employees. In today’s competitive business environment, organizations must step forward and invest in human capital as a competitive advantage. To contain health care costs, managers should take an active leadership role in measuring health status and then developing and promoting wellness strategies based on those data. With some creativity and innovative planning, HR professionals can improve employees’ health status, resulting in a healthier, more engaged and more productive workforce.