Follow These 4 Steps for a Healthy Start to the New Year

By Haley Bass | 12/11/2017

The New Year often presents a feeling of a clean slate and a fresh start to achieve some long-overdue goals. While many focus on better financial or personal health, there’s no reason it can’t also include helping to establish a healthier workforce.

The average full-time working adult spends more than one-third of their day, five days per week at the workplace, so it’s an important setting to address health and well-being. If you’ve never implemented a wellness program, or you’ve let your existing program fall apart, maybe it’s time for a fresh start. As a new year approaches, now is the time to start planning for your workforce to have a healthy start to 2018.

Here are four steps you should take to get started:

1. Start a wellness committee.

While the commitment to and success of a wellness program often start from the top-down, sometimes the excitement and involvement need to start from the bottom-up. Getting a group of employees (who aren’t the boss) involved can make the program seem less intimidating to others. Start by thinking of one or two people in your organization who are infectiously positive, passionate about health, and good at organizing things. Let those people build a team, with at least one manager or executive as their go-to for signing off on ideas, give them a budget, and allow them to set your wellness program in motion.

2. Put something on the calendar.

It’s easy to spout off wellness ideas for the year: let’s do a 5k, create a healthy cooking challenge, bring a nutritionist to the office, etc. It gets a little more challenging to schedule the events - and time can quickly get away from you. Avoid missing out on the follow-through by putting at least one thing on the calendar now. Even if you don’t set up the event until later, having it on a public calendar provides accountability. And once you’ve scheduled one event, it can be easier to move forward with the rest.

3. Determine what your employees want.

Offering nutrition classes and healthy snacks is a great way to improve workplace wellness, but you might not get that much engagement if your employees really wanted exercise tips and challenges. Knowing what your employees want out of a wellness program is key to its success. You can send out an anonymous survey, set up a suggestion box, or just try a few events and projects to gauge the response. As you start to understand what your employees are hoping to get out of the program, you’ll start crafting an engaging and effective wellness solution.

4. Make it fun.

Wellness isn’t about bombarding people with nutrition labels and step counts - it should be fun! Including fun activities in your wellness program will increase engagement, and show your more skeptical employees that being healthy doesn’t have to be exhausting and hard all the time. There are several fun elements to include in your program: put a team together for a recreational sports league, have a coworker lead a weekly lunchtime yoga class, bring in a nutritionist to teach a healthy cooking class, offer monthly fitness challenges, etc. The possibilities are endless!

 

If you’ve never started a wellness program before, it can feel intimidating. But as we enter the new year, it’s the perfect time to start something new - and it doesn’t have to be difficult! Try following these steps and you’ll be on your way to a successful and engaging wellness program.

Wellness programs are only one aspect of work health. In fact, there’s a whole industry devoted to keeping employees safe and healthy: occupational health. Learn everything you need to know to get started in our white paper, “The Beginner’s Guide to Occupational Health.”