How to Start a Wellness Program


Once your credit union decides it wants to implement a workplace wellness program, the first question is often, “What kinds of activities should we include?” Before you have that discussion, you should lay the groundwork for your program and gather more information. The following is a list of steps you can take to get your wellness program started.

Gain Support from Management

Support from all levels of management is key to the success of your wellness program.  To ensure the support of management, inform managers about the program early on and encourage them to participate. Communicate the program’s goals and benefits clearly and often. Gaining management support will ensure you have sufficient resources and staff time to develop your wellness program.

Assemble a Workgroup

Your wellness workgroup is a committee responsible for promoting the workplace wellness program, planning activities, recruiting team leaders and conducting evaluations. The size of the workgroup will depend on the size of your company and the scope of the program or activities. The workgroup should be large enough to represent your workforce and should include staff that represents various departments, such as marketing, union representatives, human resources and administrative staff. If you already have a wellness or health promotion committee or other groups interested in taking on this role, involve them in the workgroup.

Designate a Coordinator

Management or the workgroup should identify a wellness coordinator to oversee the program. Although members of the workgroup can share responsibilities, having one person in charge of coordinating efforts increases the likelihood that the program will be well-managed. The level of success for a wellness program is often linked to the coordinator’s time and ability. It is important that some or all of the coordinator’s time be dedicated to the wellness program. If that isn’t possible, consider contracting with an outside party to provide assistance.

Schedule Workgroup Meetings

The workgroup should meet regularly, at least on a quarterly basis. The workgroup may meet more often during peak times when planning or implementing new activities or programs. The frequency of meetings will depend on what the workgroup plans to accomplish.

Analyze Your Needs

Complete a workplace environmental assessment and conduct an employee interest survey to collect information on the topics that would be of most interest to the staff. Set program priorities and plan initiatives based on the results of these assessments in order to improve your return on investment (ROI).

Develop an Action Plan

Action plans should include specific goals and objectives, strategies to meet these goals, a timeline, a budget and an evaluation plan. If your goals are clearly identified, it will be easier to gauge the effectiveness of your wellness program.

Invest Accordingly

Building a successful workplace wellness program requires time as well as money. Some larger organizations may spend 20 hours per week for three to six months preparing to launch a workplace wellness program.

Costs will fluctuate depending on whether costs are paid by you, employees, or the costs are shared. The Wellness Council of America estimates that a wellness program costs between $100 and $150 per employee each year, but can produce an ROI of between $300 and $450. Keep in mind that the ROI will likely be higher with more comprehensive programs.

Implement and Communicate the Plan

You need an effective communications strategy to put your plan into motion and to encourage employee participation. In addition, be sure to educate employees so they understand why you’re implementing a wellness program and what benefits they can gain from participating.

Evaluate Outcomes

Periodically review your program goals and compare outcomes to your goals and objectives. Keep employees involved in the evaluation process and adjust programs and initiatives based on employee feedback and evaluation results.

Following the steps above and not rushing the planning process will make your workplace wellness program more successful in the long run.  Contact us for more information on building a successful wellness strategy. 877-674-7555