Business of Well-being

Creating New Year's Resolutions for Your Wellness Program

A new year provides the opportunity to look at and learn from the past; New Year's resolutions offer us the opportunity to reach for our potential.

What better time to assess your company's wellness program and resolve to make changes to increase engagement to help your employees meet their health potential.  While many employers look at the kick-off as the start of the new year, ongoing participation, engagement andSucce buy-in oftentimes drops off after the excitement of these events.  

As 2012 begins, seize the opportunity to look forward.  Draft a set of wellness program resolutions designed to reflect past successes and make program changes to increase engagement and ROI throughout the year!

Resolve to Celebrate Success

Congratulations on leading your company for 365 days of wellness!  Before you define your resolutions for 2012, take the time to evaluate and celebrate 2011 wellness program milestones.  

While these successes and lessons learned provide valuable benchmarks for the coming year, do not forget that the core mission of a wellness program is to create a culture of health.  Take the time to celebrate success and recognize achievements in creating a healthier and more productive workforce.

Resolve to Increase Senior Management Visibility

Success starts at the top.  The most successful programs are taking place at companies where the CEO and C-Suite are solidly behind the program and are extremely vocal in championing the wellness program and are willing to share their own personal success stories.  

Create 2012 goals for senior management and your company's Wellness Committee and Wellness Champions to ensure that they are dynamic, diverse and engaged for the coming year.  Healthy, engaged employees are happy, productive employees.  And it starts at the top.

Resolve to Make Healthy Choices Easy

The most common barriers to wellness program participation are lack of time, lack of interest, lack of awareness, lack of access, and privacy.  Resolve to address these issues by making healthy choices the default option, so that time, interest, awareness and other barriers are broken down.  

Simple changes can be implemented, including serving healthier foods at meetings, in the cafeteria, and vending machines.  Policy changes can be considered, including making the workplace "soda or candy free."

Environmental changes can be instituted, including posting health and nutrition messages in places where employees will see them (elevators, restrooms, hallways, coffee stations) or installing bike racks, locker rooms and showers.  Make it easy, and more people will participate.

Resolve to Get To Know Your Employees

When designing a successful wellness strategy, it is imperative to know your employees.  Whether creating a new wellness program or revising an existing one, make a resolution to get in touch with your employees' health profile and interests.  Ask for feedback from your Wellness Champions and senior management.  

Dust off your last employee survey and schedule small focus groups to obtain personal feedback, uncover barriers, and develop a program that is based on listening, learning, and understanding your employee population.  

Refresh key demographic and risk profile information so the year's program can be tweaked to provide participation opportunities to targeted individuals.  As your employees adopt the wellness program and set personal goals, resolve to adapt the strategy to meet their needs.

Resolve to Communicate and Refresh All Year Long

A new year provides an opportunity to leverage the momentum of employees' personal New Year's resolutions to remind them that the wellness program is available to support their goals.  Start the year with a campaign that highlights your wellness brand and communicates information that educates employees, provides updates, and recognizes past success.

Embark on a strategy that encompasses a yearlong communications roadmap that reflects national health observances, local community health initiatives, and company-wide wellness objectives.  

Resolve to evaluate your company's use of technology (intranet, website, Twitter, or Facebook), wellness committees and champions, on-site meetings, and communications to allow employees to share information, motivate each other, and stay connected.  Engagement is fluid - plan a campaign that anticipates the lows and leverages the highs.

Resolve to Have More Fun

Companies tend to focus on the launch of a wellness program - with a wonderful kick-off event, great communications, and lots of enthusiasm - but then drop the ball on the back end.   Resolve to refresh your program, add new components, and keep people excited to participate.  

Wellness shouldn't be serious all the time.  Companies should keep it fun, fresh and exciting by sponsoring corporate, departmental, or team challenges; offering incentives and giveaways for meeting goals; holding walking meetings; and other fun initiatives.  

Incorporating fun and freshness into your wellness program is energizing and can provide incentives for employees who would normally shy away from participating.

Resolve to Encourage Personal Goals

Personalized goal setting increases your chance of success.  This year resolve to encourage employees to set achievable goals so that they can experience early success and the rewards that come with that success.  

While these early successes will build competence and motivation, establishing harder goals keep employees challenged and growing.  To promote success, offer support in pursuing goals by providing tools, resources and encouragement consistent with the wellness program's structure.  

Health coaches, health and wellness portals, and wellness challenges are examples of the wide range of resources which enable employees to set goals and track their progress.  Giving employees the ability to monitor their progress over time can be highly motivating and go a long way to establishing a culture of health.

Resolve to Recognize Wellness Champions

Successful wellness programs rely on the commitment of Wellness Champions who act as the company's front line in promoting and engaging their colleagues.  Resolve to reward, recognize and engage your Wellness Champions by evaluating the ROI of the wellness program and reporting on Wellness Champion metrics.  

Benchmarks designed on wellness program components provide effective measures for Wellness Champion success and allow for feedback for the coming year:  program participation by location, use of wellness portal, attendance at onsite speakers, changes in risk profiles, participation in fitness and corporate challenges.  

To keep Wellness Champions engaged in 2012, develop an annual program that includes scheduled conference calls/meetings, training, and an established feedback process to help keep these champions connected.

Wellness programs are designed to help employees identify healthy lifestyle choices, improve their health, contain health care costs and increase productivity and retention of healthy employees.  That's a lot to accomplish in a year!  

As companies reflect on the success of 2011 in meeting these goals, developing a set of 2012 resolutions provides an opportunity to leverage the excitement of a new year to create and maintain a culture of health.

About the Author

Fiona Gathright is President of Wellness Corporate Solutions (WCS), an award-winning, woman-owned business specializing in high-touch wellness programs.   Fiona writes a popular blog "", is sought after for her expertise in wellness, and serves on the board of the Institute for Human Resources and the Alliance For Workplace Excellence.

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