A Publication of WTVP

When wellness is integrated into an overall business strategy, both employer and employee benefit.

Workplace health promotion (WHP) has been defined as the combined efforts of employers, employees and society to improve the health and well-being of people at work. Simply put, we all have to work together to improve our health. Promoting health in the workplace only makes sense, as this is where people spend a large portion of their waking hours.

A Coordinated Approach
Let’s make a few assumptions:

At retirement, this person will have spent 82,560 hours at work, or just under 9½ years. Assuming they sleep eight hours each night, their total waking hours are 16 per day, with 50 percent of this time spent on the job. The type of information received during these hours is paramount, as these are presumably the hours people are most alert and receptive to learning new things—such as how to improve their health.

When developing a workplace wellness/health promotion program, one must understand that it will only ever be as good as its design; thus, the building of a WHP program should involve a coordinated, systematic approach. A coordinated approach to workplace health promotion should result in a planned, organized and comprehensive set of programs, policies, benefits and environmental supports to meet the health and safety needs of all employees. A comprehensive approach looks to put interventions in place that address multiple risk factors and health conditions concurrently. These interventions and strategies influence multiple levels of the organization, including both individual employees and the organization as a whole.

The systematic part of the process must include (but is not limited to) the following:

  1. An assessment to define employee health risks and concerns and describe current health promotion activities, capacity and needs;
  2. A planning process to develop the components of the workplace health program, including goals, priority interventions and organizational infrastructure;
  3. Implementation involving all the steps needed to put health promotion strategies and interventions in place and making them available to employees; and
  4. An evaluation to analytically investigate the quality, effectiveness and significance of organized health promotion action and activity.

Both employer and employee might ask:

The final question is the one to focus on.

Real-World Benefits
Both employer and employee benefit from a WHP program. A person’s workplace directly influences their physical, mental, economic and social well-being, and in turn, influences the health of their families, communities and society. Providing health promotion to the workforce offers an ideal setting and infrastructure in which to encourage healthy habits to a large audience.

A few considerations to make when considering why an organization would develop a wellness program:

Employee wellness is not a fad. It offers real-world benefits, both to those implementing the programs and to those participating. But these programs must be given time to mature, considering most participants are battling old habits that were years in the making. One cannot expect behavioral changes to happen overnight, but when a person is able to commit mentally, emotionally and socially, on a conscious level, progress is possible. And when employee wellness is integrated into its overall business strategy, an organization can strengthen its culture and improve employee loyalty, as well as reduce overall healthcare costs. iBi

Kadar Heffner is Business Services Manager at RiverPlex Recreation and Wellness Center.