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Ten Best Practices for Your Workplace Wellness Program

June 13, 2024

Whether you are considering implementing an employee wellness program or have one in place, these 10 best practices serve as foundational guidelines for establishing a robust and successful program, no matter the size of your organization. These guidelines are intended to help shape policies, programming and wellness promotion in the workplace. However, it is worth noting that not all 10 practices are a fit for every company’s culture. We encourage companies to identify which best practices speak to their culture, goals and wellness vision.

  1. Strategic Plan in Place

A Strategic Wellness Plan is a documented commitment to the well-being of employees and their families. It’s important to have a well-thought-out plan, as it demonstrates that no matter the size of your business, or the type of wellness programming you offer, your company is committed to the well-being of its most important asset—your people. This plan may contain a well-being mission and vision statement along with program goals and objectives that are on display and regularly communicated to employees.

  1. Leadership Support

Effective leadership is crucial to a company’s success and employee retention. True leadership support includes well-being programming buy-in and engagement from all levels of leadership. Leaders function as models or champions for the program, help achieve buy-in and support from other levels of their organization and help cultivate an encouraging work environment.

  1. Policies Supportive of Well-being

Your company-wide policies should support a culture of well- being across multiple dimensions of wellness. These may include policies such as a tobacco-free workplace, flexible work schedules, paid time for wellness program participation, parental leave policies and fair wages/benefits.

  1. Integrated with Other Resources

Your wellness program should be integrated with organization-specific resources and partners. These can include your insurance broker, an Employee Assistance Program, safety, medical and health plans, financial/401k plans, along with community resources/partners.

  1. Champion Network and Committees

A Champion Network is a group of a few individuals within an organization who promote and inform employees about their wellness program and its benefits. Employee wellness programs need motivated individuals who regularly communicate information and feedback, as well as promote the program to keep employees informed, excited and engaged.

  1. Comprehensive Programming

Comprehensive Programming is when your employee wellness program offers multiple engagement opportunities with an emphasis on flexibility of choice, convenience and programming that covers multiple dimensions of wellness. Everyone has their own preferences, interests, goals and motivations. Your employee wellness program should cater to these differences, rather than being one size fits all.

  1. Ongoing Evaluation

Evaluating your employee wellness program provides data that informs you whether your program is successful, effective and well-received by your employees. This data is useful to help make or adjust a plan of action for getting on track and ensuring your wellness program meets its intended goals.

  1. Barrier-free Programming

With a few simple changes, you can make your wellness program more inclusive to all individuals, thereby increasing participation and hopefully leading to a healthier, happier workforce. By implementing barrier-free programming, employee wellness programs become available and accessible for individuals with a wide range of abilities, needs and circumstances. Providing a safe, inclusive community, as well as participation alternatives and accommodations, will help improve your workplace culture and, in turn, positively impact employee productivity, retention and motivation.

  1. Well-being is Celebrated

Celebrating wellness wins and rewarding your employees will inspire them to move forward. According to behavioral scientist B.J. Fogg, celebrating small wins stimulates a dopamine release in the brain, the feel-good chemical that reinforces the learning experience and strengthens the sense of connection to people we work with.

Celebrating wellness within your organization requires regularly sharing success stories and program highlights. Those who take time to reflect on and celebrate their wins are generally more optimistic, take better care of themselves and tend to be less stressed.

  1. Dependent Participation

Research from Bravo Health shows that when spouses and family members are included in wellness initiatives, employers experience increased employee participation (twice as high) and are more likely to see meaningful, lasting change.

Employers who invest time and energy into a strong wellness program can reap the benefits of a healthier workforce—and getting started is easier than you think. Aligning your wellness program with these 10 best practices will put you on the path toward better wellness at work, and create a stronger, more productive company tomorrow.


By Kate Nykerk, Vice President of Business Development and Client Success for OnSite Wellness LLC; originally published in SBAM’s May/June 2024 issue of FOCUS magazine

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