What is a Wellness Program?

According to The Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation, workplace wellness or health promotion programs are a combination of educational and organizational activities designed to support healthy lifestyles. These programs consist of health education, screening, and interventions designed to change workers’ behavior in order to achieve better health. Workplace wellness/health promotion has been defined as “the combined efforts of employers, employees, and society to improve the health and well-being of people through activities that target individual lifestyles.” These programs address specific lifestyle behaviors, not just those at work.

Examples of wellness program elements:

  • Nutrition programs (e.g., “healthy” cafeterias, weight control groups)
  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Stress management programs
  • Courses or information sessions on health topics
  • Exercise and access to fitness and wellness centers
  • Employee recognition
  • Work and work-life balance initiatives
  • Empowering employees by giving them more control over their work
  • Providing comfortable and quiet break rooms

We all benefit from a healthy workforce. Employers see lower workers’ compensation insurance premiums; higher productivity and morale often result. And when workers are healthier, so are their families. Society bears a smaller burden of general healthcare costs supporting persons with preventable disabilities, chronic illnesses, and injuries. A healthy workforce benefits society’s moral, economic, and overall well-being.

Following are some general principles to keep in mind when designing wellness programs:

  • Actively engage workers and management.
  • Develop a clear plan with adequate resources.
  • Integrate systems: Break down “silos.”
  • Focus on organizational solutions.
  • Customize your design.
  • Provide appropriate incentives.
  • Protect confidentiality.
  • Stay flexible.
  • Evaluate and measure your program.

Wellness programs should be designed to be flexible and respond strategically to situations as they arise. This, along with worker and management input, will help programs endure.

Following are links to several articles to help educate and assist with creating a Wellness Program at Work:…