Activity-centered vs results-centered wellness programs

So you’ve done your homework, consulted with employees and leadership, and have decided to implement a corporate wellness program in your institution. Congratulations! You’ve already made the most important first step: to commit to the health and wellbeing of your people power. Way to go!

But wait right there. Think all wellness programs are the same? Think again!

Learn the key differences between an activity-based wellness program and a results-oriented wellness program in order to design a wellness strategy and implementation plan that will be a success at your organization.

Activity-Centered Programs

Many organizations looking to craft a wellness program do so in one of two ways. 1) They have passionate team members on board, so eager to begin a wellness initiative that they immediately begin to organize health-themed activites, resources, or events. OR 2) Pressure from higher ups to implement a wellness program leads to a chaotic and hurried implementation.

In both scenarios, health promotion activities take center stage as the organization strings together a seemingly random assortment of wellness offerings. While this approach might appear to be ambitious and straightforward enough, it fails to consider the bigger picture in terms of what you seek to get out of your employee wellness program, and how it will be sustained in the long run.

Like any business decision or investment, the program should be structured in such a way that will allow you to monitor and measure outcomes, regularly comparing accomplishments to the goals you set out to achieve in the first place.

Poorly designed wellness programs which put the emphasis on activity planning alone will fail to accurately benchmark, analyze, understand and compute the results of the initiatives which they promote. There is no way to tell if your wellness strategy is actually working if you do not set goals ahead of time, plan your wellness offerings accordingly, and develop a clear strategy towards a well-defined outcome.

Not only that, but without a clear mission behind the wellness initiative, organizers will more likely than not eventually lose interest in the program and it very well may fizzle out in a few months or years time. At some point in the future, if the idea for a wellness program is brought up again, the whole process could repeat itself, each time with unsuccessful results and disappointed, or worse, disgruntled employees.

The majority of wellness programs in the United States are organized in this way, as they provide merely a mix of activities aimed at health promotion, but no sustainable strategy to ensure the effectiveness of such initiatives.

Results-Oriented Programs

Results-oriented wellness programs are scientifically proven to be more successful than loosely-organized, activity-based programs; however, they are the minority with only 7% of U.S. companies developing such a comprehensive program. As a result of this, the concept of wellness programs, in general, has fallen victim to attack; with many questioning the effectiveness of wellness initiatives. It’s no wonder they’ve earned a bad rap when poorly planned and executed programs have become the norm.

Result-oriented programs, in contrast to activity-based wellness programs, consider the most important outcomes of a wellness strategy – along with other key factors – before rushing ahead with the implementation of the project.

Welcoa – the Wellness Council of America – features seven core benchmarks of a successful, results-oriented wellness program on there website. They are:

  1. Capture Senior-Level Support
  2. Create Cohesive Teams
  3. Collect Data
  4. Craft an Operating Plan
  5. Choose Appropriate Interventions
  6. Create Supportive Environments
  7. Carefully Evaluate Outcomes

More information about the detailed components of each benchmark can be found in PDF format here.

In a nutshell, results-oriented corporate wellness programs focus on identifying key issues, getting the support of upper management, aligning wellness policies with strategic goals of the organization, assessing the needs of the workforce, and creating an effective plan to monitor, correct, and assess the outcome of the wellness strategy. Instead of hastily offering health solutions, the organization takes its time to understand what is the best comprehensive program that will ultimately help the company – and individual employees – to meet their health and wellness goals in a sustainable, effective, and cost efficient way. You can read more on corporate wellness here.

Wishing you the best of luck in your efforts to create a healthier, happier workforce!



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