HR Leads Business

Sep 21, 2020 | Ruth Hartgen, PHR, CIR, HRCI Director, Human Resources

Coordinating a Wellness Program for a Small Organization

COVID-19 has highlighted the important role health plays at work. Employers also gained a better understanding of workers’ holistic health needs, from physical to mental to financial health. Because of the isolation that people are feeling, it's more important than ever to encourage employees to make their health a priority.

However, small organizations don’t always have extensive resources for building out wellness programs on par with their enterprise counterparts. A Rand survey found that only 33 percent of the smallest firms surveyed offered a wellness program compared to 80 percent of larger firms. Small firms that didn’t offer a wellness program generally cited a lack of resources as the reason.

Here’s how to create a wellness program that employees will be excited about at your small organization.

Start With Surveys

Maximize your resources by developing a wellness program that your workforce will appreciate and use. Each person has different priorities for health and wellness, and that extends to diverse employee groups. For example, employees at one organization might be interested in linking fitness trackers for a steps challenge, while those at another organization might prefer mindfulness and meditation. Don’t spend your resources without first finding out what your workers value most. 

Use surveys to give team members input into what goes into your program. List wellness options for employees to vote on, such as investing in online exercise programs or apps to support mental health. Leave room for suggestions and let employees communicate their needs to you. Make the most of your resources, ask employees what they want to use, then act on their feedback. 

Find Your Champions

In small organizations, HR teams are often only one or two people, but this doesn’t have to limit your wellness program’s promotional efforts. Share the responsibility of promoting your wellness program with team members from across the organization. There are likely to be a few people within every organization who are interested in setting up or promoting a wellness program. Find these wellness champions at your organization. It's OK to reach out and see who wants to help support your efforts.

Growing awareness organically through a word-of-mouth campaign can generate genuine interest at no cost to you. When team members from different areas of the company are excited about your wellness program, they’ll build excitement and increase utilization rates within their departments. Nurture that sense of community by setting up group goals or even a little friendly inter-departmental competition.

Promote Available Resources

There’s a lot you can do for health and wellness, even with a modest budget. Contact your benefits providers to see what your plans offer. Wellness offerings are often already a part of your package that employees just don’t know about. UnitedHealthcare, for example, offers Real Appeal, an online weight-loss program free to every member. This doesn't cost the company anything but provides a huge benefit to employees. 

Modifying policies doesn’t fall strictly under a wellness program’s purview but can support health and wellness at little to no cost. Develop policies and provide resources to help workers find a healthy balance between work and home. Closing the office one hour early on Fridays or offer flexible scheduling. This doesn’t cost the organization and can have a big impact on lowering stress and boosting morale.

Establishing a constructive wellness program that workers will use can be time-consuming, but it pays off. When your employees are exercising regularly and managing their mental health, they can be more productive and engaged.

When you set up a program that excites employees and encourages health and wellness, everybody wins.