Create an effective wellness program

Keeping employees healthy saves businesses money -- and nobody knows this better than the healthcare industry.

Susan Moriconi, vice president of human resources at Omnicell, a medication and supply automation company based in the San Francisco Bay area, has helped implement a wellness program at her company and says it can be simple and very effective.

Here are her four tips necessary to creating an effective program.

1. Be very clear about your goals.
A company needs to figure out if helping employees get in shape physically -- or maybe helping improve employees’ mental state, --can help its bottom line. Moriconi said it’s crucial for organizations to have a plan that has direction. “It’s important to be clear on their goals,” she said. Sometimes the goal is to keep employees from getting sick. As long as a company is being transparent and communicating it’s goals, everybody wins.

2. Engage employees in creating and implementing a wellness program.
“We are very interested in ways to keep our employees engaged,” said Moriconi. She added that successful wellness programs are about getting employees involved and determining what works for them. Employees know best what type of activity suits their fitness level, as well as their schedule. “[Healthcare organizations] should ask what their folks want,” said Moriconi. Also, engaging employees helps build workforce relationships, she said.

3. Think outside the box.
“One of the misconceptions firms have is that a wellness program has to be fancy and cost a lot of money,” said Moriconi. On the contrary, a wellness program can include simple workouts, such as taking the stairs as opposed to using the elevator. “Taking steps — that costs nothing,” said Moriconi. Utilizing things like “mini-activities” or simply focusing on nutrition can be very cost effective and help employees manage stress levels. “Employees can become very creative,” noted Moriconi.

4. Make the program competitive and offer initiatives and rewards as opposed to mandating a program.
Engaging employees is easier when incentives are offered, explained Moriconi. “There’s a fair amount of competition and banter,” she continued. “I found from personal experience that this is really helpful.” Incentives can be financial or nonfinancial and create a sense of fun in the workplace. Moriconi said these programs enjoy the most success when employees are involved in friendly competition involving incentives.