In my last post, I started to explain the steps involved in launching a corporate wellness program. The process begins with understanding the true meaning of health and wellness, building a culture that supports those definitions, and choosing a health educator to serve as the spokesperson and advocate for your wellness program.
The health educator is the most important person involved with your wellness program and should have access to other qualified healthcare professionals who can help implement program services.
Not only should the health educator be a doctor who has been trained to lead a wellness program, but they need to be inspirational. Employees aren’t going to act on newsletters, emails and memos. They need to be motivated and educated through seminars, meet-and-greets, and 1-to-1 interaction.
It can be tempting to hire one of the many vendors with fancy names who claim to be able to implement successful corporate wellness programs. However, many of these companies aren’t run by doctors, which is why so many programs, as I mentioned in the previous post, are mostly fluff with little substance.
Now that you have a health educator who serves as your wellness program’s spokesperson, you should form a board of directors. The board and health educator will work with your health insurance provider to establish services, goals, benchmarks and incentives for your wellness program. They will also collaborate to determine how progress will be monitored, how success will be measured, and maintain HIPAA compliance.
Smaller organizations shouldn’t be intimidated by the term “board of directors.” Your board can be as small as two or three people. In fact, wellness programs at smaller companies often operate more smoothly and efficiently because they don’t have to deal with the bureaucracy of larger companies.
Set a start date for your corporate wellness program like you would for any other business initiative. When the program goes into effect, each employee should go under an initial exam so you can answer a few key questions.
Who is high risk? Who is on their way to becoming high risk? How do we help each of these individuals become healthy? How do we educate our youngest employees so they never become part of that pool?
Wellness can’t be measured on a bathroom scale or in a full-length mirror. You have to dive into blood chemistry. The federal government created wellness protocols and benchmarks that are valuable, but they’re also very lean. They’re a good starting point, but for me, they’re not comprehensive enough.
I use about a dozen additional metrics to track the progress of employees and see if they’re actually improving. This helps me paint a clearer, more detailed picture of an individual’s health status. Wellness programs need to be based on 1-to-1 interaction between the employee and a doctor.
Ultimately, a corporate wellness program is successful when employees are able to function at optimal levels and become less reliant upon medication and doctor visits. After all, the only way to drive down healthcare costs is by using the healthcare system less frequently. This requires us to reverse the effects of chronic illness, 90 percent of which are preventable.
These are the basic steps involved with implementing a corporate wellness program. Remember, the goal isn’t to lose weight or get 10 employees to participate in lunchtime yoga. The goal is to add years to the lives of your employees and, in some cases, save their lives.
This is one of many topics that I cover in my Wellness at Work presentations. If you’d like to learn more or schedule a presentation at your company or organization, call 732-222-2219 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.