Wellness and Wellbeing program - Design and implementation

Wellness and Wellbeing program – Design and implementation

How to define and implement the Wellness and Wellbeing Program (Employee Assistance Program). Designing and managing a Wellness and Employee Wellness program is an important step in improving employee health and productivity and potentially improving the overall cost of health care provided by the employer. Welfare programmes can benefit employers by:

– Reduction of health care costs.
– Reducing absenteeism and presentism.
– Higher productivity.
– Improve employee morale and loyalty.

Step 1: Situational Assessment

Obtaining information on the mental health of employees is an essential step in the development and implementation of a Employee Assistance Program. This information will allow the organisation to design programmes and services that are most beneficial to both. Below are the steps and tools suggested to get this information:

– Conduct surveys to employees to assess the interests and personal needs of employees. The direct survey of employees helps to assess the current climate about how a program can be received and what information employees are willing to share.
– Conduct an organizational assessment to determine what types of wellness programs are opened to.
– Perform motivational evaluation and engagement of employees. It will allow the definition of actions adapted to the organization culture.

Step 2: Management Support

Management support is essential for the design and implementation of Employee Assistance Program successfully. Engagement by management is essential for funding purposes, to obtain support throughout the organization, and for policies and processes approvals related with program.

The approach of the 3 below questions can help to get the necessary management support:

– Which are the organization’s short and long-term strategic priorities? Organizations should demonstrate how Employee Assistance Program support these strategic goals.
– What benefits can be expected from Employee Assistance Program, and what is the potential value of promoting well-being to the organization?
– Which are the leadership styles, pressures, strengths, and weaknesses of the organization’s leaders? These answers can help determine the presentation method.

Step 3: Wellness and Wellbeing Committee

After conducting an assessment and obtaining management support, the organization should create an internal, workers-oriented commission that helps build and sustain the Employee Assistance Program. This committee shall have the following responsibilities:

– Evaluation of current programs, services and policies that are available in the workplace.
– Assessment of employees’ needs and preferences.
– Development of an operational plan adapted to the health promotion organization culture, including a statement of vision and objectives.
– Assistance in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of welfare activities.
– Permanent readjustment of the Employee Assistance Program.

The Committee may be elected by invitation or by means of volunteers ensuring that there is cross representation, such as members of the top management, HR department, information technology, communications/marketing and the health and safety department; union representatives; and employees interested in health and well-being.

Step 4: Set Goals

Using the information collected from the employee’s evaluation, organizations should define goals and objectives for the Employee Assistance Program. The objectives may include stabilizing employees’ mental health, reducing absenteeism and presentism, increasing worker productivity and increasing retention. The objectives should be clear, time-limited and declared so that it is easy to determine whether or not they have been achieved.

Step 5: Set Budget

Establishing a budget is a critical step in the creation of the Employee Assistance Program. Without funding, the program will stall.

When creating a wellness budget, organizations should include the cost of actions to be performed, incentives, marketing, and program design in the budget.

Step 6: Wellness and Wellness Program Components

Organizations have several options in designing the Employee Assistance Program. There is no default program, as each will vary based on organizational needs and resources. Designing an Employee Assistance Program resembles building a puzzle, each piece has to fit.

The Employee Assistance Program can go from a very simple program to an elaborate multi-actions program. It is important to include a variety of actions that aim at risky behaviors and the needs and interests of employees. Examples of common programs are as follows:

– Psychological Counseling
– Weight loss programs.
– Smoking cessation programs.
– Health risk assessments.
– Health screenings.
– Exercise programs and activities.
– Nutrition education.
– Vaccination clinics.
– Team Engagement actions (tours, meetings, lunches, quiz, internal newsletter, …)
– Recognition programs

Step 7: Incentives or rewards

Incentives or rewards are an effective tool for changing unhealthy behaviors, for adhering to healthy behaviors, to increase participation rates, or to help individuals complete a program. The argument for rewarding employees for participating in an Employee Assistance Program is based on the basic principles of behavioral psychology: People are driven to act for the positive consequences they expect from their actions.

Building a rewards system in an Employee Assistance Program is a great motivator. Rewards can take many forms, including points that can be exchanged for goods, gifts that celebrate achievements or monetary prizes. Over time, the motivation for rewards goes from an external incentive to an intrinsic reinforcement.

Step 8: Employee Assistance Program communication

Write and communicate the Organization Wellness and wellbeing that should include the organization objective, the level of involvement and the system of rewards and incentives with regard to the well-being of employees.

Communication is essential and decisive for the marketing the program, to ensure participation and consequently its success.

Communication will allow you to create a social and engagement culture where being healthy is valued. This can be done in many ways by using well-established marketing techniques and behavior change, such as:

– Employee Assistance Program logo and slogans for various components of the program.
– A launch of attraction program.
– Management visible support and participation.
– Sustain the message and the program over several years.
– Multiple communication channels, such as emails, flyers and presentations.
– Repetition of the message.
– Keep the message fresh with new information.

Ongoing communication and marketing are important to maintain involvement in Employee Assistance Program.

Step 9: Assess the success of the Employee Assistance Program

As with any investment or project, the evaluation of the effectiveness of the Employee Assistance Program is important in supporting management, support of employees and in the review or implementation of new programs or actions.

Employers must set metrics and objectives in launching any welfare initiative, which will vary depending on the programmes implemented. For example, employers can measure participation rates, program completion rates, and the percentage of workers who have quit smoking or lost weight.

Organizations may want to measure return on investment (ROI). Regardless of the tools or measurements used, evaluating the effectiveness of the Employee Assistance Program is an important step in the continuous management of the program.

Step 10: Get support from an experience partner

Through the implementation of an Employee Assistance Program organizations will be helping their employees to have a stable mental health and self-knowledge.

These programs, when well structured, include different actions that cover different areas in order to provide employees with tools for their well-being.

We can identify some themes that these programs cover: how to deal with stress, anxiety, tools to deal with stress, conflict management and relationships, emotiona lintelligence, how to communicate, counseling, among others, that support employees.

It is important to note that an Employee Assistance Program should be adapted to each organization and its culture. Only in this way will you be able to respond to the needs of your employees.

And how do organizations have the return on investment they make? Through:

– Increased productivity
– Reduced recruitment costs
– Increased employee branding
– Employee engagement
– Reduction of internal conflicts
– A good working environment

It’s important to get support from a partner that has experience in designing and implementing these programs to avoid errors and maximize the return. Why should we event the wheel when it’s was already discovered?

Have a great Employee Assistance Program

Nuno Finisterra

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