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Cindy Boggs Cindy Boggs
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Cindy Boggs is an American Council on Exercise-certified fitness professional, corporate wellness presenter and author of the award winning book, CindySays… "You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World." Her web site is www.cindysays.com.

According to the "National Physical Activity Plan,"… "the workplace can provide a supportive environment to encourage positive physical activity behaviors. Wellness initiatives and policies within businesses and industries can lead to numerous benefits for both employees and employers. These efforts have shown to be effective in creating an active work culture with the potential to increase productivity and reduce absenteeism, turnover and health care cost."

Does the company you work for have a wellness program? If you work at a company employing a wellness director, consider yourself lucky because you are being encouraged, educated and guided toward healthier habits. Not every workforce has this perk or option. 

An effective worksite wellness program will include:

1. Solid groundwork

  • Leadership buy-in. It must start from the top.
  • A board or advisory committee is vital to success and represents the interests of both management and employees. 
  • A knowledgeable leader who is passionate, persistent and persuasive. This person or group of persons can ignite interest as well as hold everything together.
  • A needs assessment before it begins and an evaluation plan so progress can be monitored.
  • Various forms of communication. The wellness messager must be sensitive as well as creative.

2. Broad-based programming

  • A variety of appealing programs that have measurable outcomes and low to no costs.
  • Regular health screenings which are helpful and can guide both individuals and an entire program.
  • Education as the foundation of the wellness plan. Successful worksite initiatives will regularly host lunch and learns on topics such as healthy cooking, stress management, smoking cessation, fueling your workouts, strength training 101 and back health.

3. Momentum builders

 

  • Incentives for participation and success. These can come in many forms but all will motivate and keep employees engaged.
  • Partnerships to offset costs and add an element of support. Collaborating with health-related/non-profit organizations will broaden program offerings.
  • Tracking for outcomes. This is essential for measuring success and potential funding/support going forward.

 

It's worth it

While there are a few downsides, such as start-up costs, personnel time to run and track, as well as potential liability, there are far more upsides. A healthier workforce usually means increased productivity and morale and decreased health care costs. The ROI on an effective wellness program is worth mentioning, with an estimated return of $6 to the company for every $1 spent on wellness. 

Never too small to think about health

While larger companies may have more immediate resources in terms of funding and personnel, size doesn't always predict success or failure of a worksite wellness program. One person can change the climate of a worksite and attract others with like intentions and goals. All companies, whether large or small, need and want a healthy staff.