Blog: Why a Healthy Workforce Starts at the Top

A healthy workforce can work wonders for your organization as it can lower costs and help employees perform their best. Workplace wellness programs, when done right, can help employers achieve a healthy workforce, but only when they have the full backing and commitment of the leadership team.
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Diane Wolfenden
Diane Wolfenden // Courtesy photo

A healthy workforce can work wonders for your organization as it can lower costs and help employees perform their best. Workplace wellness programs, when done right, can help employers achieve a healthy workforce, but only when they have the full backing and commitment of the leadership team.

A recent study from the Health Enhancement Research Organization shows organizations whose leaders serve as role models for prioritizing health and work/life balance reported higher median satisfaction rates (85 percent) and employee agreement of organizational support (85 percent), compared to organizations whose leaders were not role models (75 percent and 73 percent, respectively).

Now that we have the facts out of the way, let’s review some tips leaders can follow to create and maintain a healthy workforce.

  1. Create and promote a culture of well-being

If your goal is to develop a culture of health and well-being, the open enrollment period is the perfect time to promote these offerings. You can use this time to highlight well-being to ensure it doesn’t get lost in the jumble of additional benefit information being tossed around.

Whether you’re trying to motivate employees to complete biometric screenings, finish their health assessments or get their annual check-up, there are multiple opportunities to use clear, consistent communication to your advantage. One of the most concrete results of creating this communication to your employees is continued dialogue about workplace health. Even when the specifics of well-being programs or health plans are blurred, or open enrollment timeframes vary, the mere presence of them in company conversations shows positive steps towards a healthy workplace.

  1. Engage your employees in planning discussions

While most wellness programs promote better health and help keep employees fit and happy, it’s best to fully understand your population’s health to determine which program will best serve your employees. Work with your insurance company to establish which will be right for you, based on past claims data and current trends in care. Odds are, the perfect wellness program for your company is waiting in the wings and bound to spark engagement, not to mention serve as an essential tool for attracting and retaining top talent.

Poll your employees to find out what they desire in a wellness program. By allowing your employees to become a part of the planning process, it will give them a greater sense of buy-in and increase the likelihood of participation in wellness activities planned throughout the year.

  1. Have fun with it

Wellness activities provide an opportunity to bring some fun to the work environment. Create a theme, turn wellness into a game, and provide opportunities for employees to be social. Rally the team up to participate in a 5K, coordinate an outdoor yoga session during lunch, host a stair climbing competition – the options are endless.

As a leader in the workplace, you have a unique opportunity to set the tone for participation, involvement, and overall healthy decisions among employees. Developing an effective wellness program will allow everyone to live the happier, healthier, and more productive lifestyle we all strive for.

Diane Wolfenden is vice president of the eastern region for Grand Rapids-based Priority Health. She oversees business development, large group sales, and client services in the southeastern region and small group sales and service statewide. She has more than 25 years of experience in the health insurance industry in sales and underwriting.

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