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Wellness Program Activities – Design and Implementation .

When developing a robust Health Promotion Program, make certain that it consists of a variety of awareness, lifestyle change, supportive environment programs, policies and activities that target risk behaviors, and the needs and interests of the workforce.

It’ll be crucial to review and revise existing policies governing such areas as smoking sections and the staff cafeteria.

Tips on designing a Wellness Program -

o  Develop activities based on your plan goals addressing the specific needs of your employees. Focus on those topics that are of greatest interest to your employees and the greatest needs of your business, in that order. Avoid topics with narrow appeal.

o  Keep it simple. Design the Health Promotion Program so it’s easy for the participants to understand and track.

o  Integrate a combination of activities to include awareness, educational, and behavior elements.

o  Select activities in which every employee can participate.

Suggestions for your Wellness Program -

o  Challenges. Activities that focus on practicing a desired behavior that continues for 4-8 weeks and focuses on specific topics (such as physical activity, nutrition, or stress management).

o  Learning experiences. This includes seminars, videos, and classes.

o  Behavior changes (such as use of tobacco cessation). You could or may not offer interventions at the worksite. Nevertheless, you ought to encourage person to make lifestyle changes that they want to make even without an external incentive.

o  Education on illness management. for  instance, support and education groups for diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

o  Learing new skills. for example, CPR and first aid.

o  Preventive screenings like blood pressure, cholesterol, and vision.

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Health Promotion Program – Developing Objectives and Goals.

Create goals and objectives

Objectives are general guidelines that explain what you want to achieve. Objectives define strategies or steps to take to attain the identified goal.

A wellness program should’ve a “destination”. Use the results of your surveys and your wellness committee’s mission statement as guides. Consider these ideas -

o  Focus on making medical information and learning resources readily available to staff

o  Focus on group activities so workers can work together to support and encourage healthier life choices

o  Develop a wellness program that is visible to both workers and to your customers

o  Focus on written policies and guidelines

o  Make sure to set goals for your wellness program.

Review Guidelines for Writing Goals.

Health Promotion Program Objectives Should be

Specific – A goal is specific when it provides a description of what will be accomplished. It’ll state exactly what the corporation intends to accomplish.

It ought to be written so that it can be easily and obviously communicated. A specific goal will make it easier for those writing goals and action plans to address the following questions -

o  Who’s to be involved?

o  What is to be accomplished?

o  Where is it to be done?

o  When’s it to be done?

Measurable – A goal is measurable if it’s quantifiable.  To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions like – How much? How many? How’ll I know when it’s accomplished?

Attainable – You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Objectives that might have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable.

Realistic – Realistic, means “do-able.” the goal needs to be realistic for your business and where the business is at the moment.

A goal to take out all the high fat items in the vending machine might not be realistic for your business right now; a better goal would be to substitute some chips, candy bars and pies for pretzels, yogurt and dried fruit.

Timely – In conclusion, a goal must have a timeframe –  for next week, in three months, by age 35. It must have a starting and ending point. It should also have some intermediate points at which progress may be assessed.

Limiting the time in which a goal must be accomplished assists to focus effort toward its achievement. If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel you can begin at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to begin taking action now.

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Wellness Program Needs and Interest Survey.

Successful health promotion programs are designed to meet the needs and interests of the staff members. Ask staff members what they’re interested in, and what needs they have.

People  are more willing to participate and support wellness efforts if they’re involved in the decision-making process. Review the sample worker survey provided below.

Worker Interest Survey ?.” can be edited (http – //www.ibx.com/pdfs/custom/worksite_wellness/business_tools/employee_interest_survey.doc)

When developing a recent survey, keep the following hints in mind -

o  Ask mainly closed form questions, namely when you will be sending the survey to a big number of workers. Closed form questions provide specific options and are easy to tabulate.

o  Invite comments, suggestions and recommendations, or ask open-ended questions at the end of the survey. Open-ended items are more difficult to summarize.

o  Include a brief explanatory cover letter with the survey with the signature of the business president. Be sure to include a statement about confidentiality and anonymity.

o  Ask a group of representative personnel to review the survey before it is distributed. Find out if the questions are going to be understood by personnel and will not be objected to.

o  Include demographic information at the beginning, or end of the survey (gender, age, shift, site, department, etc.).

o  Conduct a random drawing for a valued incentive item for all those who returned the survey. This could increase the response rate.

One rule to consider concerning surveys is when you have fewer than 500 staff members, everybody should receive one.  The advantage of everybody receiving a recent survey could be significant. If you have over 500 staff members, a sample of the work population from each department will suffice.

The higher the response, the more accurate and reliable the results. A minimum response of 40% to 50% is considered valuable.

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Establish a Wellness Program Committee.

A crucial first step in organizing your company’s wellness program is the formation of a wellness committee.  The focus of the wellness committee is to plan, promote, and implement the wellness program.

The committee establishes continuity, motivation, and broad ownership of the health promotion program in addition to provides an great automobile for communication.

So who must be on the committee? Consider appointing the following individuals /departments to your committee -

o  upper management within your organization

o  Union representatives

o  Human resources (HR)  department

o  Employee assistance program

o  Information technology

o  Communications

o  Health and safety department

o  Staff Members interested in wellness

Building a successful health promotion program requires staff time as well as money. Some larger organizations may spend 20 hours per week for three to six months preparing all the steps before launching a health promotion program.

Anywhere from 4 to 10 people  meeting monthly equals a wellness committee. A mission statement for the committee must be developed by the second meeting. This way, everybody knows what the committee is working toward.

Once a health promotion program has been established, the committee’s size and meeting schedule may change. Still, no fewer than 4 members should meet at least quarterly so the group ?.” and the health promotion program ?.” doesn’t fade away.

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Wellness Program – Obtaining Management Support.

Support from senior management is essential to building a successful health promotion program! Visible senior management support is among the most critical factors in the success of a worksite Wellness Program.

Upper-level management executives are responsible for making sure that the organization meets its goals. They can provide additional assistance by assisting you to link your Health Promotion Program goals to organization outcomes, thereby positioning Health Promotion Program as a fundamental part of the organization.

It is imperative that you create support and excitement for the health promotion program from all levels of the organization including upper-level management, mid-level management, and grass-root workers.

The challenge for any Wellness Program coordinator is convincing senior level management about the potential value of Wellness Program to the corporation and conceptualizing how wellness programs can impact the corporation in a meaningful manner.

The American Journal of Wellness is a excellent resource to assist you with obtaining convincing information on the advantages of a Wellness Program.

Health Promotion Program support from upper management can come in many different ways -

o  Involvement in the planning process

o  Distribution of funding for the health promotion program

o  Support for time given to the health promotion program

o  Participation in wellness events

o  Leadership by management, such as the distribution of a letter of support for the wellness program.

o  Download a sample letter requesting upper-level management support. (http – //www.ibx.com/pdfs/custom/workplace_wellness/corporation_tools/sr_mgt_support.doc)

o  Flexibility of staff member schedules to accommodate wellness activities

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Wellness Program – Conducting an Organizational Assessment.

The first step in developing your wellness/Wellness Program is to understand your company and how Wellness Program will fit into the current structure.

By researching your corporation’s history with similar wellness programs and eliciting feedback from coworkers, you can find the best solution for your business.

Health Promotion Program –  Research Questions

o  Find out when Wellness Program has been done in the past. If so, what worked and what did not?

o  Was it widely accepted?

o  Was wellness programming successful? Why or why not?

o  What does your business hope to gain from beginning a Wellness Program?

Answers to these questions will help you begin the process of building a culture of wellness within your organization. It’s essential that you assess the environment before beginning a health promotion program.

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Advantages of Wellness Programs.

The costs of health care have been rising more than 10 percent yearly for several years. A substantial amount of the money spent in the health care system treats costly diseases and diseases.

o  Approximately 95 percent of the $1.4 trillion that we spend as a nation on health goes to direct medical services, while about 5 percent is allocated to preventing disease and promoting health.

o  Potentially, 50 percent to 70 percent of all diseases are avoidable as they’re associated with modifiable health risks.

o  In an effort to optimize staff member health, reduce preventable health care utilization and enhance work performance, and in turn lower health care costs and improve staff member satisfaction and retention, many companies are developing, or are interested in developing, Wellness Programs for workforce.

The advantages of company wellness are well documented. More than 120 scientific research studies repeatedly show themes like improvements in health outcomes coupled with high ROI. Some major findings include the following -

o  Savings of $3.48 in decreased health care costs per dollar invested.

o  Savings of $5.82 in lower absenteeism costs per dollar invested.

o  ROIs of at least $3 to $8 per dollar invested within five years of wellness program implementation.

o  Lifestyle behavior modification programs –  $3 to $6 Return On Investment within 2 to 5 years.

o  Self care, decision support health promotion programs –  $2 to $3 Return On Investment within a year.

o  Disease management programs –  $7 to $10 Return On Investment within a year.

By offering health promotion programs, companys are not only providing an additional service for employees, but they are also gaining financially. Furthermore, the impact of a health promotion program goes beyond lowered healthcare cost and Return On Investment.

A health promotion program can affect productivity, absenteeism, morale, recruitment success, turnover, and medical care costs.

* Source –  Rees, C., and Finch, R. (2004). Health Improvement –  A comprehensive guide to designing, starting and assessing wellness programs. National Corporation Group on Health, 1 (1), 1-7.

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What’s a Wellness Program?

According to the American Journal of Wellness, “Health Promotion is the science and art of assisting individuals  change their lifestyle to move toward a state of optimal health.

Optimal health is defined as a balance of physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual health. Lifestyle change can be facilitated through a combination of efforts to enhance awareness, change behavior, and create environments that support good health practices.

Of the three, supportive environments will probably have the greatest impact in producing lasting change.”

Health Promotion Program –  Action Steps

The process of building a Health Promotion Program involves -

o  Identifying the current health status of your workforce

o  Decidingthe appropriate wellness programs and interventions to offer

o  Advertising and beginning the wellness programs

o  Building in motivational incentives

o  Evaluating the impact

o  Revising health promotion programs based on evaluation outcomes

It could even include developing policies and procedures that support staff member participation in wellness activities at your workplace (such as flextime).

Steps to Beginning a Health Promotion Program

o  Conduct an organizational assessment

o  Obtain upper management support

o  Establish a wellness committee

o  Get employee input

o  Create goals and goals

o  Design and implement wellness program activities

o  Select incentives

o  Evaluate outcomes

Among the ways the government plans to increase the nation’s health is through extensive Wellness Programs.

According to the USA Department of Health and Human Services, these health promotion programs might help staff members live healthier life choices by building supportive work environments and offering awareness, education and behavior modification programs.

In fact, one of the objectives of Healthy People  2010, a set of health objectives for the nation to achieve by the year 2010, is to increase the proportion of workforce that take part in a comprehensive Health Promotion Program at their worksite to 75 percent.

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Increase Corporate Wellness through Emotional Health Techniques.

5 Ways to Assess and Improve Your Employees’ Health

Emotional health is a state of wellness that comes from understanding and acknowledging our emotions and finding appropriate ways to express them.

As workforce, we often bring emotional problems from our childhood or current family life into the workplace because we haven’t dealt with them effectively outside of work.

This can seriously damage workplace relationships and lead to poor performance and negative feelings all around.

A lot of tools and techniques exist for assisting us improve our emotional health. Some of the most common are given below, with real-life case histories illustrating their use.

If an unpleasant mood or feeling persists over a length of time, do not hesitate to seek out a certified specialist. Wellness programs normally have specialist support already in place as part of their services.

1. Health Coaching -

One of the hallmarks of emotional health is the willingness to ask for help when we need it.

Confidential professional help, the coaching and counseling provided by employee assistance or wellness programs, can provide an external source of strength and insight for “working out” emotionally-based problems in lieu of “working them in” to your job.

2. Self-help Groups -

Self-help groups are designed to aid individuals  in emotional situations in which they feel alone.  The purpose of these groups is twofold –  to allow individuals  to safely feel and express their emotions, and to help break their isolation at work and/or in society at big and reintegrate them into society with the support of a colleague group.

The classic self-help group is Alcoholics Anonymous, but thanks to technology, it is possible to connect with others that have common health challenges, no matter how unique the situation.

Individuals  are taking advantage of tele-conference groups and social websites, like sparkpeople .com and revolutionhealth.com. Health promotion programs often have such groups available through internet based or telephone support. Progressive employee health promotion provider

Exan Wellness, for example, offers teleconference cell groups and moderated wellness forums for interacting with others in a supportive, confidential and anonymous environment.

People  with shared challenges get together and discuss the emotional challenges they are facing at work or in other areas of their lives and work through change together.

3. Journaling –  Journaling is often advised by counsellors as a way to help identify and process emotions. People  record their emotions in writing as they experience them, in no matter what form they wish.

By helping the writer gain greater emotional clarity, journaling can help in making more emotionally informed decisions. In much the same way, letter writing enables individuals  to identify and process the emotions they feel about others.

The letter doesn’t have to be sent or its contents shared –  it simply provides a place for the expression of feelings.

An 18-year-old “army brat,” Brent has always done well at school, academically and athletically. But in his last year of high school, something seems to have happened to him. He has lost all interest in school, becoming moody and withdrawn.

Brent describes to his guidance counselor all the times he had to move when he was growing up. Each move wrenched him from his friends and forced him to play the role of the “new kid on the block.”

The counselor suggests that Brent write letters to the friends he’s missed over the years telling them how he felt. Lastly, he’s a chance to say a proper goodbye.

4. Assess Your Emotional Health – Organizations that seek to improve employees’ interpersonal skills, or emotional intelligence in the workplace are more successful, as reported by ground-breaking journalist Daniel Goleman.

And emotional intelligence is the buzzword in workplaces these days. Some health promotion programs have information about emotional intelligence, or emotional health assessments. Seek out more information about emotional intelligence for better corporate health promotion.

5. Friendships/Support Systems –  Friendships allow people  to feel supported in their emotional journeys.  At the same time, they give people  an opportunity to develop their empathetic skills.

These skills are also important for worksite health. When we’re empathic with fellow workforce, we help them resolve negative or unhealthy emotions. New friendships are made through hobbies, classes, clubs, or even through online groups.

Many people  are finding emotional satisfaction by connecting or re-connecting with friends through Facebook and other social websites.

Sometimes worksite stress that isn’t dealt with in a healthful manner could be brought home. A 36-year-old mother of three, Sarah, wants to be a good wife, a good mother, and a success at her job.

One day, drained after a long day at work, she shouted at her rambunctious children and threatened to hit her youngest son. Her behavior horrified her.  To make matters worse, she believes she’s a failure at her job as well as at motherhood. She watches with jealousy as younger peers advance much more quickly up the corporate ladder despite having less experience than she has.

On the advice of a counselor, she decides to take time out for herself and take a course for amateur painters. It does not take long before she strikes up a friendship with a single mom in the class.

She once led a life very similar to Sarah’s before managing to achieve a better balance between work and family. Her new friend becomes a much-needed sounding board for Sarah and offers her perspectives on her life that she had not considered before.

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Health Promotion Programs Now as Important as Cost and Workforce Issues.

25% Jump in Corporation Interest in Employee Wellness

Corporate health promotion for their personnel, employers are discovering, is good for the health of their businesses as well. Wellness programs help to cut the costs associated with poor staff member health, which include absenteeism, loss of productivity and poor work quality.

A recent Hewitt Associates survey of over 500 U.S. organizations indicated a meaningful paradigm shift in how organizations view health benefits for their workers.

Of those surveyed this year, 88 percent are committed to instituting long-term healthcare assistance programs (over the next 3-5 years) for their employees, with the goal of boosting the health and productivity of their workforce. This represents a 25 percent increase in interest in health promotion programs over 2007.

A strong offering of health promotion programs to meet the demand has resulted. Health assistance providers have broadened their health promotion programs with tools that address general lifestyle factors, physical, social and psychological health factors.

Programs look to predict chronic illness in their staff members and give them the tools and the information to prevent it. Companies also demand a way to measure the effectiveness of their healthcare spending.

Self-care is our motive, says Vic Lebouthillier, president of progressive wellness provider Exan Wellness.”We really believe giving personnel tools to help them manage their own health, and promoting the benefits, while giving people  resources to reach out for help is the key to successful lifestyle change.

Companies are also telling us they need a cost-effective way to deliver wellness programs.  The type of wellness program we have developed over years delivers the highest health care return on investment.”

Combining employee wellness promotions, web-based assessments and health trackers, web-based health information, telephone conferences and self-help groups, and access to a broad variety of health experts, is behind the success of the Exan wellness program. “Having web-based statistics about employees’ health also makes it easier to track the bottom line – ROI” says Vic Lebouthillier.

Organizations are moving beyond their traditional role as a provider of healthcare benefits to create holistic wellness programs that pinpoint the specific health needs of their employee populations, drive employee behavior change and eliminate barriers to healthcare, says Jim Winkler, leader of Hewitt’s health management consulting practice.

Notwithstanding, in a separate survey of 30,000 personnel, 74% said that, although they felt their company had an obligation to help them understand how to use their health benefits program, only 12% felt the company had any right to tell them how to be healthy.

Based on these results, companys need to drive home the fact that improved health is better for their staff in addition to the corporation. It is a win-win situation.

Corporations and personnel did find common ground when it came to future health care. Both surveys indicate that 95 percent of personnel understand that their taking care of their health today will impact future health care payments.

A similar percentage also understand the important of early detection and avoidance when it comes to saving on healthcare costs.

Cost is important for most businesses as well. Over 80% of those surveyed made cost mitigation a priority for 2008, but those cuts did not involve shifting responsibility for health care onto workforce.

While 64 percent of corporations have shifted costs to their employees, only 17 percent plan to do so in the next 3-5 years. In like manner with health reimbursement accounts, 20 percent now offer these, but only about 5 percent plan to use them in 2008.

These survey leads todicate corporations are getting more proactive in assisting their staff to change behaviors and take ownership of their own health futures. This is obviously good for the well-being of staff, but also for the well-being of the corporations they work for.

Almost half the corporations surveyed were convinced that changing health behaviors was key to increased productivity and lower absentee rates. Over 60% plan to institute health promotion programs that help workforce change and/or sustain a healthier lifestyle.

Almost of these companies will also use data and measurements to ensure their healthcare strategies meet their healthcare objectives?

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