Do you wish your business could encourage healthy habits for your employees? Creating a wellness program might sound like an overwhelming task, but it helps to start small.
Each year, Merchants Bank provides a simple walking program to all employees and we’re sharing our tips to help you start your own.
1. Determine Logistics
There are several pieces you need to have in place before kicking off your walking program. Answer these questions:
- How long will the program last? Typically, we’ve run our wellness competition for six to eight weeks.
- What walking goals are realistic? You can set step goals by day or week, depending on how you’d like to run your program. We like to have tiers to encourage employees at every fitness level to have an attainable goal. For example, in our last challenge we had goal options of 8,000; 11,000; 14,000 and 17,000 steps per day, per person.
- How will results be tracked? It works best if your employees can track their steps and report it to a central place, which for us is the Human Resources department. The HR department then records the data in an Excel spreadsheet for the duration of the program and tallies the total steps to determine program winners.
- What is my budget? Running a walking program takes staff time, but it also takes dollars. You’ll want to budget for incentives/prizes (ideas below) and determine if requiring a registration fee makes sense to help you offset costs. In our most recent walking program, we had 102 participates and spent about $6 per person on prizes. In addition, we asked participants to pay $5 to register for the program.
2. Make Participating Easy
Once you have the above details in place, you want to make participating as simple as possible for your employees. For example, how can they sign up for the program? At Merchants, we email all staff about the program and provide a Word document that they can fill out and return to our HR department.
You’ll also want to make tracking steps easy and inexpensive. We ask our employees to have a pedometer or step-tracking device or use a step-tracking app and then email their weekly steps to HR. Pedometers are a reimbursable item through our wellness program, so employees who don’t own one can purchase a pedometer for the program and be reimbursed up to a certain dollar amount.
3. Create Incentive
It’s easier to encourage employee participation if you can provide them with an incentive, even if it’s small.
Merchants has always given out prizes for our walking programs, from grand prizes at the end of the competition to smaller weekly prizes. Some examples include gift cards, fitbits or healthy snacks. Plus, each participant also receives a walking program t-shirt, partially covered by our registration fee.
It also helps to have the camaraderie and encouragement of co-workers. Our Human Resources department has found that the walking program is more successful when employees sign up with a partner or team instead of competing as individuals. Typically for group challenges, we have participation from between 25-35% of all employees.
So why is all of this important? Having a wellness program can benefit your business and your employees in many ways, including:
- Lowering health care costs
- Build a sense of community and team atmosphere
- Improve productivity
- Reduce employee injuries
Ready to get started? For ideas and helpful resources on starting a wellness program for your business, we recommend the following resources.
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