What you need to know

How can I engage my employees in a worksite wellness program?

The workplace is an ideal environment in which to build a culture of health and well-being. Helping your employees adopt healthier lifestyles could have a profound effect on your business. Fifty to seventy percent of illnesses can be prevented by healthy behavioral changes. Wellness has the potential to boost productivity, driving a three-to-one return on investment (ROI) over time. (Source: Wellness Council of America)

Capture senior-level support

A commitment from the top is critical to the success of any wellness initiative. Management must understand the benefits of the program for both the employees and the organization and be willing to put funds towards its development, implementation, and evaluation. Descriptions of what competitors are doing in terms of health promotion and linking health promotion to business goals, values, and strategic priorities will help secure senior management support. Managers who themselves take part in the program have a better chance of influencing others to participate.

Create a wellness team

Wellness teams should include a cross-section of potential program participants including employees. Your team should include individuals who will have a role in program development, implementation, and evaluation. This ensures broad ownership of the program and more innovative ideas. A wellness or well-being team will help to: achieve buy-in from both management and participants; develop a program that is responsive to the needs of all potential participants, and will be responsible for overseeing all of the company’s well-being efforts

Collect data that will drive your health initiatives

Once your team is in place and management is on board, gather baseline data to help assess employee health interests and risks. The results of your data collection will guide you in what kind of health programs to offer. This process may involve a survey of employee interest in various health initiatives, health risk assessments, and claims analysis to determine current employee disease risk.

Craft an annual operating plan

For your wellness/well-being program to succeed, you must have a plan. An annual operating plan should include a mission statement for the program along with specific, measurable short- and long-term goals and objectives. Your program is more likely to succeed if it is linked to the company’s strategic initiatives, as it will have a better chance of maintaining management’s support throughout implementation. A written plan also provides continuity when members of the wellness committee change and is instrumental in holding the team accountable to the goals, objectives, and timeline agreed upon.

Choose appropriate health initiatives

The health initiatives you choose should be driven and informed by your data (survey, HRA aggregate report, claims). The data should address prevailing risk factors in your employee population and be in line with what both management and employees want from the wellness program.

Create a supportive environment

A supportive environment provides employees with encouragement, opportunity, and rewards. A culture of health that supports worksite health promotion might have such features as healthy food choices in vending machines, a no-smoking policy, and flexible work schedules that allow workers time to exercise. Celebrate and reward health achievements and have a management team that models healthy behavior. Most importantly, a culture of health involves employees in every aspect of the wellness program, from design and promotion to implementation and evaluation.

Consistently evaluate your outcomes

Evaluation involves taking a close look at your goals and objectives and determining whether you achieved your desired result. Evaluation allows you to celebrate goals that have been achieved and to discontinue or change ineffective initiatives.

Coaches' Takeaway

Employees should be encouraged to think about how they can improve their health through diet, exercise, and stress management. Initially, employers can encourage their employees to participate in a company-sponsored wellness program, and over time, create premium differential and/or behavior–driven healthcare account funding opportunities based on participation, and eventually, outcomes. Creating a culture of wellness takes time and should be considered a long-term objective.

Tools & Resources

CDHPCoach’s Storage Facility, where the Coach has organized and compiled a vast amount of tools and resources for you to access.


Housed here are key components and information within the book, Bend the Healthcare Trend which was the impetus behind the CDHPCoach.


What you need to know