15 Mistakes That Can Totally Mess Up Your Wellness Program

Posted by Lisa Stovall on Thu, Jan, 10, 2013
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Starting a worksite wellness program has its challenges. Worksite wellness programs succeed for just as many reasons as they fail. It's up to you to make it happen, and it's not as hard as you may think. Simple steps make all the difference, especially when it comes to successful wellness programs.

Here are 15 mis­takes we've seen health promotion professionals make that have the poten­tial to total­ly mess with the effec­tive­ness of your corporate wellness program.

  1. No Formal Plan 
    Without a formal strategic plan, your wellness program will simply drift, and will always be reacting to the pressure of the day instead of focusing on specific objectives.
  2. Lack of Staff 
    For the employee wellness program to run smoothly, one person should be responsible for coordinating the program. This person should be committed to leading a healthy lifestyle and setting a good example.
  3. Poor Management Support 
    Leaders play important roles in creating environments that support wellness. Management should be visible participants in the program.
  4. Failure to Engage High Risk Employees 
    If high risk employees have the majority of the health issues, they should be the most targeted individuals. These employees should be a priority.
  5. Inadequate Communication
    Without question, the wellness programs that achieve the greatest success are the ones that are aggressively communicated. Communication must start early and continue often.
  6. Not Positioning Wellness Program Correctly
    Too often wellness programs are just an "HR project." They should be positioned as a culture change and something that is critical to the success of the company.
  7. Unrealistic Expectations
    Behavior change takes time. Transforming a culture is hard work. Conventional wisdom is to not expect a positive ROI for at least 18 months.
  8. Not Collecting Data
    To create a wellness program that fits your company you have to collect data on your employees' health status. On-site biometric screenings are a great way to capture data. 
  9. No Money 
    Wellness programs can be low-cost, but not no cost. Make sure you have at least a minimal budget. Be creative in identifying other funding sources.
  10. Pointless Programming
    A smoking cessation program, for example, will do little to impact the bottom line if smoking and its related illnesses are not cost drivers for your health care plan.
  11. Zero Employee Engagement 
    Weak employee engagement is one of the biggest obstacles to changing employees’ health. By branding your wellness program, you can create an emotional connection at every touchpoint.
  12. Ineffective Partnering 
    You can't do everything by yourself. Recruit people for a wellness committee who want to help develop a culture of wellness. Partner with as many employees and departments as you can. 
  13. Equal Access 
    Shift workers should have the same access to the wellness and health promotion program as the day shift.
  14. Too Complicated
    If employees don't understand wellness offerings or don’t know how to participate, they won't engage. Like the age-old mantra, “Keep it simple, stupid,” this is good advice to follow when developing your wellness program. 
  15. Not Addressing Employee Privacy 
    Some employees may ask, "What do they need that information for? Why do they need to know my cholesterol?" Stress early and often that health status information is confidential. 

What other mistakes can you make that will damage your corporate wellness program? Share them in the comments so we can all learn to avoid these treacherous wellness program pitfalls.

Image Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt

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Topics: Wellness at Work


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