Helping Employees Stay Happy and Healthy – Employee Wellness Programs

Helping Employees Stay Happy and Healthy – Employee Wellness Programs

By Kylie Bayer-Fertterer, Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District

But first… Throwback to the old Morning Buzz questions!

What I’m Reading: The Goldfinch and once I pop into my favorite independent bookstore to pick up a copy of What Happened.

What I’m Listening To: The ELGLPopUp Playlist!

What I’m Excited About: ELGLPopUps! I’m so excited to see a group of fun people in Portland on Friday! And I can’t wait to follow along all day on twitter to see what’s going on in Dallas, Kansas City, and Charlotte!

What I Want To Know From You: First, did you register for #ELGLPopUps? Second, does your organization have a wellness plan? Do you like it? Are you healthier for it? Does your HR department force kale down your throat and make you go to yoga?

Nice segue! *pats myself on the back*

I’m buzzing about employee wellness programs! Wellness programs come in a variety of shapes and sizes (just like employees! I’ll see myself out.) When I googled wellness programs a TON of articles came up. Interestingly one was “5 things every employee wellness program needs” and the next was “10 reasons employees hate wellness programs.” For the HR wonks, SHRM has a comprehensive article about wellness programs that I found pretty thorough.

What works for one organization might not work for all of them. Here is a rough list of wellness program ideas that might help you kickstart a wellness initiative in your organization!

  • Work with your health insurance rep to bring healthcare professionals to your office for basic health screenings. Sometimes employees need a little nudge to go to the doctor, bringing the doctor to them might just do the trick.
  • Host a vaccine clinic! We bring a handful of nurses to our office for flu shot clinics every fall. It’s a great way to save employees a trip to the doctor’s office for a simple flu shot.
  • Review your snack protocol for staff meetings. If snacks are on the menu, commit to making one of the options a healthy one. Think fruit for bagels or sparkling water for soda or pop.
  • Coordinate with your retirement plan advisors to set up financial planning meetings. Employees have different financial needs at different stages in their lives. Consider setting up group meetings based on need (designing a budget, getting out of debt, transitioning to retirement, etc.)
  • Bring speakers to your office for lunch and learn sessions. Word to the wise: we did this once with a speaker who talked about how stressful the holidays are and hammered home the fact that most people die around Christmas because they’re so stressed out. We all left the session a little edgy and definitely not in the Christmas spirit. Lesson learned, screen your speakers. And book a massage in December so you don’t die.
  • Establish walking meetings. These work best for one on ones or small groups of 3 or maybe 4. Anymore than that and the walking meeting is too challenging.
  • If parks and recreation are part of your city/county, look into giving employees free passes to the recreation center.
  • Help employees go tobacco free by publicizing smoking cessation programs. Most health insurance providers offer a specific program to help folks quit, sometimes employees just need to know where to find those programs.
  • Speaking of smoking, is your office and the surrounding area smoke free? We just made our park district smoke free a few years ago. A few employees decided that was the thing to make them quit smoking.
  • Give employees toolkits to hold their own weight loss or fitness contests. These are easier when each participating employee buys in for a few dollars. Rather than the organization awarding prize money, which is tax deductible (sad trombone sound.)

Approach wellness holistically. It’s not always weight loss or fitness challenges. Helping employees manage their finances or stay on top of simple health screenings are other examples of wellness program ideas that go a little outside the box.

And remember, initiatives of any kind work best when managers are involved. If you’re a manager you better show up at that health screening! Or pop in to the recreation center once in a while!

Did I miss something? Tweet at me and I’ll add to the list!

 

  • I started my career at an employer health insurance company. They were incredible about supporting wellness and had several people you lost significant weight thanks in part to help from the company’s wellness program. In line with snack policies, they asked all employees to remove sweet treats from your desk that might tempt another person who was trying to be healthy.

    While a lot of people might see this over-stepping, it is true that we’re bombarded all by messaging and images from unhealthy food options. Taking these preventive steps to support other employees can be incredibly meaningful!