Workplace Wellness Programs

Workplace Wellness Programs

by Posted on: July 30, 2014Categories: LiveWell 24/7   

workplace wellness

Did you know approximately half of U.S. employers who have over 50 total employees sponsor a workplace wellness program? These programs are intended to promote and initiate health and fitness typically in the workplace and as a result improve employee health and decrease health related costs for employers. Wellness programs can effectively improve employee health and provide a good return on investment (ROI) as long as appropriate steps are taken to ensure the correct program is being put into motion. Success of the program depends on both the support from management and employee engagement.

Support from management plays a major role in developing a successful wellness initiative. The leaders on all levels must show their support of the program. In order gain support, inform them about the program early on and clearly communicate the goals and benefits several times. Invite management to participate as well and set an example for the other employees. Increased encouragement can lead to more engagement which will in turn increase the ROI of the program.

Employee engagement is a vital aspect of creating a successful program and engagement is determined by participation. In order to determine what program to establish, you first need to identify employee needs and interests. Assess your workplace to figure out your employees’ health problems and fitness levels as well as their interest in different types of wellness programs. Some of the best ways to assess needs include surveys, focus groups and health risk assessments. You must determine what wellness program will fit what your employees perceive to be a need and something they are willing to participate in. Here are some ideas for areas of focus for a wellness program:

  • Fitness
  • Smoking cessation
  • Nutrition
  • Weight loss
  • Stress management


In fact, we have some wellness programs of our own in place right now. We assessed our employees and put together a fitness competition in our office. We provided equipment needed to measure active minutes per day, steps taken and distance traveled in order to create a competition among randomly selected teams. We have also put on a number of wellness initiatives for our clients that pertain to their needs such as a steps challenge competition and a physical activity competition.

Once the needs and available resources have been determined, you can choose the type of program that best fits your organization. There are three general categories of wellness programs: screening events, health education and promotion activities, and prevention and intervention measures.

1. Screening Events

  • Least-involved
  • Least costly and time-consuming
  • Health risk assessments (Questionnaires or screenings)
  • Goal: give employees information on their health status
  • Examples: cholesterol level measurement, blood pressure testing

2. Health Education and Promotion Activities

  • More investment and time
  • May require corporate changes and outside resources
  • Education/ Counseling Sessions or changing policies & procedures
  • Goal: Educate and prompt some behavior change
  • Examples: Switching to healthier cafeteria options, walking meetings

3. Prevention and Intervention Measures

  • Most involved and resource-laden, see the best ROI
  • Require up-front investment in planning and resources
  • May need equipment (pedometers, scale, ect.)
  • Goal: attempt to reach wellness goals and achieve lifestyle changes
  • Examples: Walking competition, weight-loss initiative


The last thing to think about is how your program will be classified for legal compliance. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) a program can be one of two categories. First it can be a participatory wellness program in which employees are required to join the program with no regard to whether the employee actually changes behavior or meets a requirement. The second category is called a health contingent wellness program. This type requires participants to meet a standard related to a health factor to obtain a reward. There are two subcategories, activity-only and outcome-based, that both must follow additional requirements such as reasonable alternatives in order to be in legal compliance.


If you are interested in setting up a workplace wellness program and initiate health and fitness in your own office, contact Jordan Archer at Clarke and Company Benefits by emailing



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