Creating a Wellness Environment

Wellness—it’s a popular buzz word these days, especially in the workplace. Companies are doing anything and everything they can to reduce health insurance costs. And one way many companies are countering these ever rising costs is by implementing wellness programs.

You may be asking yourself, what does a wellness program consist of? Unfortunately, there is not just one answer. Wellness programs vary between companies, industries, and geographical regions. It can range from incentivizing employees to complete a Health Risk Assessment or go through a biometric screening, to offering employees premium reductions if they complete health coaching sessions or participate in health challenges. However, research has found that companies have the most success when they implement a holistic approach that includes most, if not all, of the above activities (1). And in order to develop a successful wellness program and truly gain the wealth in health, you must create an environment that supports health (1).

You’re next question may be, how do I create a supportive health environment? Thomas Golaszewski, Judd Allen, and Dee Edington identified eight characteristics of an organizational structure that supports health (2).

Piece of cake, right? Probably not. Trying to include these eight characteristics into a work environment may seem like an overwhelming and daunting task. One of the most effective ways a company can successfully implement this level of programming is through hiring an individual who is focused solely on the execution of a wellness plan. This position is most commonly referred to as a Wellness Coordinator. While this option presents its own unique challenges which I will address in a future post, it can be done. The wellness coordinator works onsite, directly with the employees. She/he can help form a wellness committee, assess the current company environment, develop and implement health-supporting policies, communicate health and wellness information to all employees, manage health and wellness programs and challenges, and offer a variety of health services, including biometric screenings and personal health coaching.

The future of wellness lies in creating environments that support health. In order to achieve and maintain lasting lifestyle changes, companies must begin to see the importance the work environment plays in an employee’s life. Having an onsite wellness coordinator or even an onsite clinic, will help a company transform its environment into one that supports the health and well-being of all its employees.

Tina Vannatta
Onsite Wellness Coordinator