Dietitian Blog | Jul 18 2023

Ten steps to implement a worksite wellness program 

Have you ever wondered how to start a worksite wellness program at your job? An effective wellness program is designed to support and improve the overall health and wellness of the employees. It takes detailed planning and strategic implementation to succeed.

When starting a worksite wellness program, be sure to address the following components in your design: 

  1. Gain leadership supportResearch indicates that worksite wellness programs are more successful when leadership support for the program is strong. Therefore, securing support from leaders is a crucial component of a successful worksite wellness program. 
  2. Establish a wellness committeeA wellness committee should be a small group of employees that represent diverse staff from various teams or departments. This committee oversees and helps lead the wellness program. This group propels the program by inspiring and encouraging employee engagement, developing initiatives, and participating in the evaluation.
  3. Assessing needs, interests, and goalsGathering and assessing the unique needs, interests, and goals of the employee population is an important step in creating an effective worksite wellness program. This typically includes administering a survey, reviewing employee health data, and conducting interviews. Such information helps to develop a solid understanding of employee preferences, health challenges, potential barriers, and motivators. This is also where risk factors will become apparent and can help inform the program design. 
  4. Distinguish program componentsBased on data gathered in the needs assessment, it’s time to decide what elements will be utilized in the program. This might include educational workshops, team-building events, physical activities, mental health support, or any other components relevant to the population’s needs. The program should be comprehensive, addressing multiple areas of well-being.
  5. Set goals – SMART goals–specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound–are recommended for a worksite wellness program. This might look like reducing employee turnover, improving employee satisfaction, or reducing workers comp claims per year. SMART goals will aid in the development and evaluation of the program.
  6. Determine the budgetNext, determine what funds are available for the wellness program, including equipment, staffing, activities, and incentives. Be sure to account for short-term and long-term costs. Consider cost-saving strategies, such as partnerships with local health organizations.
  7. Design program activitiesDesign program activities that foster employee well-being in a way that is inclusive and accounts for varying interests and abilities. This might look like stress-reducing activities like mediation sessions, raffle tickets to a massage, or a walking club. Think: engaging and valuable! 
  8. Promote, promote, promoteA communications plan is key for raising awareness of the program and encouraging employee participation. Determine the best methods of communication for the population to effectively get the word out. Share upcoming events, incentives, and positive employee feedback. Employ the wellness committee to get and keep people engaged and interested.
  9. Implementation and evaluationAfter launching the program, it’s time to monitor its performance. Collect and review data on participation rates, employee feedback, program impact, and health outcomes. Allow this data to guide adjustments to the program. Be sure to evaluate the program against the established goals and objectives.  
  10. Sustain and evolveContinue promoting the wellness program and introducing new initiatives and activities. Celebrate positive outcomes, participant engagement, and effort, and adjust components based on employee feedback. Incorporate current trends that promote well-being while employing inclusivity in the design.  

All in all, designing an effective worksite wellness program takes time, strategic planning, and ongoing commitment. Following the above steps can develop a program that infuses a supportive environment and a culture of well-being that is sustainable. 

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Ryan, M., Erck, L., mcgovern, L., mccabe, K., Myers, K., Nobrega, S., Li, W., Lin, W.-C., & Punnett, L. (2019). “Working on wellness:” protocol for a worksite health promotion capacity-building program for employers. BMC Public Health, 19(1). Https:// 
Musich, S., Ozminkowski, R., & Bottone, F. (n.d.). Benchmarking Wellness Programs: How does your program measure up?. Corporate Wellness Magazine. Https:// 
Baicker, K., Cutler, D., & Song, Z. (2010). Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings. Health Affairs, 29(2), 304–311. Https://  

About Natalie Torres

Natalie Torres is a dietetic intern and graduate student. She is passionate about nutrition communications and has 5 years of experience providing nutrition and health education in a variety of settings. After becoming an RD, Natalie plans to continue sharing nutrition and health information in fun, easy-to-digest formats.   

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