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Get started addressing worksite wellness in your organization. The pages in this section provide strategies, templates, and other resources to help start or expand a worksite wellness initiative. You'll also find resources specific to certain occupations – farming, transportation, early childcare, food service, health care support, and buildings and grounds.
steps to get started with worksite wellness
Learn how to build a successful worksite wellness initiative!
Having leadership support for your wellness initiative is the backbone of successfully creating culture change. Leadership involvement on your wellness team can help secure financial resources, link worksite wellness goals to business outcomes and implement policy and environment changes in the workplace. If you haven’t already gained leadership support, this is the first task. The CDC provides some tips on how to gain leadership support.
Form a wellness team that has representation from all areas of the organization. Recruit wellness team members who represent diversity in age, culture, gender, sexual orientation and disability status, as well as from all areas of the organization, such as:
- leadership – senior and middle management
- human resources
- employees from different shifts
- employee assistance program providers
- finance and legal
- individual departments
- marketing/public relations
- board members
- safety and compliance
- insurance providers
A wellness team can:
- assess the health risks and current lifestyle behaviors of employees through health interest/needs surveys
- assess current policies and environmental factors that may affect employee wellness
- evaluate existing resources and gaps in services
- plan and implement selected wellness strategies
- conduct financial planning for implementation of wellness strategies
- establish and enhance relationships with other community organizations and government agencies to partner on shared goals—for example, encouraging active transportation in partnership with an environmental group to promote physical activity and decrease pollution
Assessments should be completed before selecting worksite wellness strategies to make sure they meet the needs of employees and the organization. It is important to assess both the organization and employee needs and interests. An organizational assessment looks at the physical and cultural environment, policies, benefits and current wellness offerings. Employee assessments look at current health-related behaviors, health outcomes, and interest areas. As you assess your worksite, determine what the vision and mission of your company’s wellness initiative is. It is important to have a broader vision and mission to help guide your strategies to accomplish a broader purpose.
A comprehensive organizational assessment provides a broad overview of various aspects of a workplace that could impact employee health, including factors related to wellness, safety, and mental wellbeing.
OTHER ASSESSMENT TOOLS:
CDC Workplace Health and Safety Climate Survey - A short survey developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assess employee perceptions of the work environment, working conditions and attitudes towards supervisors and coworkers for developing a healthy worksite culture.
Indicators of Integration - A scorecard developed by the Harvard Center for Work, Health and Well-Being, which can be used to assess the extent to which a company has integrated programs, policies and practices related to protecting and promoting worker safety, health, and well-being. The tool aims to identify areas of potential strength and improvement to more fully integrate safety and wellness practices.
CDC NIOSH Quality of Worklife Survey - A survey that measures the relationship between job/organizational characteristics and worker health and safety, and identifies targets for health and safety preventive interventions.
CDC Employee Health Assessment - Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for use in the National Healthy Worksite Program, this is a tool to assess employee health status, health behaviors, readiness to change, needs and interests related to worksite health and safety and work-related health history.
Employee Interest Survey - A brief employee interest survey that can be tailored for use at your workplace to assess what wellness offerings and changes your employees are interested in.
Once the assessments are complete, use the information to identify one or more strategies to promote employee wellness. We recommend an integrated approach to choosing strategies. This means looking at strategies that can impact multiple outcomes at once, and considering changes that impact overall culture, instead of just focusing on any one topic or event. The Health Dpartment recommends that you look at six core outcome areas (listed below), and consider strategies that can impact multiple areas and work towards a healthier culture at your workplace. It is especially effective to integrate workplace safety efforts with your wellness initiative. The Harvard Center for Work, Health, and Wellbeing has several resources on an integrated approach to worker health.
After identifying strategies, develop an implementation plan that includes:
- a timeline
- specific goals and objectives
- methods of communicating the strategy to your employees
See below for sample strategies on each of the following core outcome areas for healthy worksites:
- Promote healthy food choices at the workplace
- Go tobacco-free
- Help employees get daily physical activity
- Become a breastfeeding-friendly workplace
- Promote preventative care and safety
- Support the emotional wellbeing of employees
The three key considerations in implementing your selected strategies are awareness, accessibility, and inclusion.
Make sure that employees know about any changes to the workplace or any new offerings available to them.
Make sure details about the selected strategies and relevant resources are easily accessible for all employees. For example, if your strategy requires computer access (such as accessing a wellness portal) but some employees do not have computer access during the workday, create an alternative option. You might provide mobile phone compatible portals or an app or having tablets available for employees to use.
Ensure that opportunities to participate are available to all employees, regardless of age, cultural or religious practices, gender, sexual orientation and disability status. In certain cases, a selected strategy might focus on one part of the population more than another (for example, a breast cancer awareness campaign might target female employees), but promote inclusiveness to the greatest extent possible.
- Provide wheelchair-friendly options for a walking challenge.
- Make sure selected activities are sensitive to diverse cultural and religious beliefs.
- Provide translated, large-print, or other adapted versions of written materials.
- Look for resources on creating accessible gardens when developing a plan for a worksite garden.
- Include the opportunity to verbally receive information about programs, policies, or awareness campaigns.
It is important to evaluate whether strategies accomplish the established goals and objectives. It is also key to evaluate how employees and management are responding to strategies, participation rates and any return on investment. Evaluation can help identify successes, find areas for improvement and plan next steps. Select the appropriate evaluation measures for the initiatives and timeframe you are assessing. Being realistic about what your initiative was trying to accomplish will help you identify the correct measures. For example, if you are evaluating the impacts of a healthy meetings policy over one year's time, consider measures that look at organizational change, employee attitudes, and productivity related to meetings (instead of looking at health care cost reductions or direct changes in health outcomes).
Below are a few ways to evaluate your wellness initiative:
Participation - Are employees participating in activities?
- Measure participation rates
- Conduct employee surveys to look at employee satisfaction
Organizational change - Are there changes to the organization’s environment, policies, and culture?
- Conduct an annual organizational assessment
- Conduct other annual assessments, such as annual Health and Safety Climate Surveys
Health impacts and outcomes - Are employee behaviors and overall health improving?
- Evaluate medical and dental claims data
- Conduct employee surveys to look at changes in behaviors, such as preventative care visits, physical activity, stress, eating habits
- Evaluate biometric measures
Financial - Are there cost savings?
- Analyze medical and dental claims
- Evaluate measures of productivity, such as absenteesim and employee outputs
- Evaluate employee turnover rates
Resources to help with evaluation:
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Businesses, schools, cities and towns are taking simple steps to make a big impact on the health of their communities. Show your commitment to reducing chronic disease through worksite wellness!