I’ve always exercised, eaten a balanced diet and tried very hard to stay healthy. And I’m lucky enough to work for an employer who not only encourages its employees to be healthy, but also backs it up by offering a variety of wellness opportunities. During my five years with Benefitfocus, I have not only participated in these opportunities but I now head up the healthy living initiatives that we offer to all of our associates.
With healthcare costs rising, the importance employers are placing on wellness programs is significant. There’s much debate about which program or method is best. Though I’m not a wellness expert, as an employee of a wellness-oriented company, I can share what I’ve learned from first hand experiences with these programs and insight into which were most effective. You’ll notice that these range from paid solutions and services to no cost and employee-organized:
- Yoga Classes: twice a week after work, our company offers yoga classes in our large conference room.
- Bootcamp: a 6 week program that we offer once a quarter.
- On site health screenings: our company offers free health screenings a couple times throughout the year.
- Gym membership discounts: many gyms are willing to offer companies discounts in order to recruit new members.
- Running club: this was a fun idea; a friend and co-worker approached me about starting a Benefitfocus Running Club. He thought that getting a group of associates together to run twice a week would encourage us to run faster, longer and stronger. He was right! A simple idea turned into a huge initiative that everyone wanted to be a part of. Our Running club now has a reputation for showing up with force in our “We Run This Town” shirts, to all types of local races!
- Pedometer/striding challenge: One of Benefitfocus app partners is a wellness company called Sonic Boom. They provided us with wireless pedometers that tracked our steps & sent the data to an online scoreboard. With this technology, we held a striding challenge to see who could walk the most steps in a month. Our associates loved the competition aspect & the technology driving it made it easier & more fun to participate in.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but what I’ve learned is that the key to a successful wellness program is choices. Not only providing choices, but also repeatedly communicating them is essential. At Benefitfocus, we get notifications by email, wall banners, handouts on our desks, Facebook & Twitter- we are well aware of what is going on and when.
Hopefully, some of the information I’ve provided here can be of value to you. Don’t forget that the most important component of the success of these programs is your employees. Involving those individuals who are already active in wellness initiatives in the planning, organizing and execution will be a huge asset. Employees who are already invested in health and wellness (like myself) will become “wellness ambassadors” and encourage their coworkers to participate.