Employee Health and Wellness Programs:
Developing an Operating Plan
One feature that all successful Employee Health and Wellness Programs share is an outcome-oriented operating plan. An operating plan is important because it:
● Link employee Health and Wellness Programs to company needs and strategic priorities;
● This "legitimizes” the employee Health and Wellness Programs, which increases the likelihood of continued resources and support;
● Provides continuity for the employee Health and Wellness Programs when personnel changes occur
● Serves as a means to evaluate the effectiveness of the employee Health and Wellness Programs.
Employee Health and Wellness Programs: Operating Plan Elements
Employee Health and Wellness Program Vision Statement. Employee Health and Wellness Programs must start here. All successful and long-lasting Employee Health and Wellness Programs, and organizations for that matter, have clear vision or mission statements. A vision statement is the envisioned future you are trying to achieve. It should include the values that drive the program along with the ultimate goals or accomplishments the employee wellness program is trying to achieve. It should support the company’s overall mission statement. The following is an example of an employee Health and Wellness Programs vision statement:
To improve the health and well-being of [insert company name] employee’s lives through health education and activities that will support positive lifestyle change thereby resulting in improved employee productivity and morale and healthcare cost savings for [insert company name]
Employee Health and Wellness Program Goals. Goals are the long-term accomplishments hoped to be achieved from the employee health and wellness program. They are more likely to be accomplished when they are realistically set, reflect the needs of both management and employees, and flow naturally from the data collected. Goals should include clear time limits, so it is easy to determine whether or not the goal has been accomplished. The following is an example of a wellness program goal:
[insert company name] will reduce the prevalence of employee smoking from 35 percent to 25 percent by the end of the next fiscal year.
Employee Health and Wellness Program Objectives. Objectives are the tactics you will implement in order to achieve the stated goals. They should be written like goals so that it is clear whether or not they have been accomplished and include specific action steps along with a timeline for completion. The following are examples of objectives that would each be supported by particular actions steps:
● By [insert date], [insert company name] will implement a smoke-free workplace policy.
● By [insert date], [insert company name] will offer all employees a health risk appraisal and will follow up with smokers by [insert date].
● By [insert date], [insert company name] will offer employees and their spouses smoking cessation classes to help them to quit smoking.
● In November, [insert company name] will participate in the American Cancer’s Society’s Great American Smoke out.
Employee Health and Wellness Program Timeline. Develop a realistic timeline to both implement and evaluate the program. The timeline will incorporate key dates contained in the objectives and goals. Health promotion programs are generally kicked off at the start of the new year when people are making resolutions and then remarketed at least two more times throughout the year. Wellness activities should be scheduled at times that are convenient for all potential participants, so it may be necessary to offer multiple sessions including evening sessions.
Employee Health and Wellness Program Budget. It takes resources to carry out the objectives necessary to accomplish the program goals. Your program budget may include such items as salaries, program materials, administrative needs, outside vendors, evaluation and the costs associated with incentives used to drive participation. A comprehensive budget is essential during the evaluation process as program costs are compared to outcomes.
Employee Health and Wellness Program Communication Plan. You must communicate and market your program to increase employee awareness of the program and drive participation. Your operating plan should address the types of marketing efforts that will be used to inform your employees about your wellness plan. Specific communication techniques will vary depending on the size of your company and your budget. Some low-cost methods you can use to drive employee awareness and participation can be equally effective:
● Involve employees in the planning and implementation process;
● Enroll the company president to encourage participation;
● Use e-mail, bulletin boards, and company newsletters.
● Make the program fun by starting with a creative name;
● Provide incentives; and
● Keep it simple and easy by making activities easy to sign up for and participate in.
Employee Health and Wellness Program Implementation Plan. This section of the operating plan will provide detailed information regarding when the various health promotion programs will be offered and will assign the individual responsibilities associated with the offerings.
Employee Health and Wellness Program Evaluation Plan. The final section of the operating plan will address how you will measure the success of your program. Ideally, evaluation will include both measuring how well the program is working and whether or not it is achieving its expected results. Participation counts along with participant evaluations and surveys will help you to answer who is using the program, what activities are most popular, whether the program met participants’ needs and whether participants were satisfied with the program content.
You will measure your results by reviewing each program goal and determining whether that goal has been achieved. Using the example from above: Did the prevalence of smoking decrease by 10 percent by the end of the fiscal year? If not, why not? Was the goal realistic? Does the timeline need to be adjusted and objectives revised?
Implementing an Employee Health and Wellness Program requires careful planning. With good planning, your company can reap the benefits of workplace health promotion: healthier employees, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, a boost in morale, and reduced health care costs. All of these benefits will contribute to keeping the company’s bottom line fit and healthy.