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A Step-By-Step Guide to Developing Employee Wellness Programs

November 1, 2022

It took 21 years and 20,000 workers to build the Taj Mahal, and sometimes it might feel like developing employee wellness programs takes just as much time and effort. But with the right team and process, you can launch a successful wellness program with ease.


What are the Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs?

The data is in - employee wellness programs benefit everyone involved. The strong support system of a wellness program cultivates long-term healthy habits in employees, leading to improved quality of life, and even a longer life span. Employers who use wellness programs to support employee wellbeing also see returns on their investment and improvements in the overall workplace culture.

Study after study has proven that a strong employee wellness program -


Steps to Designing an Employee Wellness Program

A well thought-out employee wellness program takes initial time and effort but saves a headache in the long run. By considering every aspect at the beginning, you eliminate a lot of questions and mishaps later on.


Establish Buy-In From the Top Down

Chances are, your executives have already given the green light for a new wellness program; however, their buy-in is just the start. Gain support from management at all levels by explaining the benefits of the program.

Among employees, two strategies can bolster interest and support for the program. First, form a wellness committee representative of a cross-section of the company; include employees from all levels and departments of the company. This wellness committee should have a say in the development of the program.

In addition, recruit wellness champions who will support your efforts to improve employee health through the wellness program by encouraging others to actively participate.


Designate a Coordinator 

Corporate wellness programs tend to have many moving parts. Wellness activities. Health assessments. Changing metrics. Like the old proverb says, 'too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the soup.' Designate a single wellness coordinator to administer all aspects of the program. Depending on the scope of your program and the size of your organisation, this could be a duty of an HR representative or a completely separate role within the company.


Conduct Assessments

A Workplace Health Assessment or Health Risk Assessment is a tool used in determining the current wellness practices of employees. It gathers information about each individual's health status, habits, and risks. Sometimes paired with biometric screenings, the data from this assessment can guide you in designing a wellness program to meet specific health needs.

You may also use a Workplace Health Culture Assessment to dive deeper into employees' current attitudes and practices regarding all forms of well-being: physical, mental, emotional, and financial.


Determine Goals and Objectives

Using data from assessments, establish goals and objectives for your wellness program. Think about -

  • patterns of unhealthy behavior
  • current fitness practices
  • trends in data from biometric screenings

When setting goals for your program, include items regarding both delivery and outcome. For example, you might aim to plan one lunch and learn a month (delivery), and strive to help employees increase their water intake (outcome).



It's important to determine the budget early when developing employee wellness programs. This information will direct your choices in the delivery, components, and incentives of the program.

It may be hard to justify a large - or even small - budget for your wellness program when you're balancing a number of other expenses. However, studies have examined the financial impact of a corporate wellness program, and one found that wellness programs offer a great ROI for employers. There are also benefits that can be harder to definitively measure, such as lower employee turnover, increased employee engagement, and improved morale.


Clarify Delivery

One of the biggest choices you'll make in developing an employee wellness program is to decide between internal or vendor delivery. Both have benefits and drawbacks.

With internal delivery, the wellness coordinator plans and administers most or all of the program. This is typically cost-effective for a company on a tight budget, but it places the weight of the program entirely on one person's shoulders.

Vendor delivery outsources some or most of the program to a third-party vendor. These companies, like Terryberry, deliver wellness challenges and provide a platform for wellness-related communication. You can find third party vendors at almost any price point. You're going to pay more for vendor delivery, but ultimately have access to a large support system.


Establish Components of the Employee Wellness Program

A wellness program typically consists of a variety of tangible and intangible components-

  • Health education
  • Wellness challenges
  • Lifestyle coaching
  • Communication channels
  • On-site services (massage, gym, etc)
  • Physical environment
  • Flexible work policies

You'll need to decide which components are going to be a part of your wellness program and to what extent. For example, if you choose to host wellness challenges, how often will they occur? What is the extent of your flexible work policies? How will you offer health education? Making these decisions now prevents uncertainty in the future.


Determine Incentives and Rewards

The Society for Human Resources Management has shared some interesting research about wellness incentives. The short version? Incentives do increase participation by about 20%, but a well-designed program can have almost the same impact. Don't feel like you need to blow your budget on incentives and rewards; instead, carefully consider what would be most beneficial to employees and the best encouragement to participate.

Some programs offer a benefits-based incentive plan where employees can receive points to redeem on a gift of their choice by completing certain activities, such as an annual flu jab. You may also offer points based on participation or when employees hit a certain step count.



Communicate the Plan

More than 85% of large employers offer a corporate wellness program, but only 60% of employees are aware that their company has a wellness program. A wellness program is made of a variety of components, and while the person designing the program is well aware of everything that's gone into it, other people don't have the same advantage.

Create a document detailing every aspect of your wellness program. In addition, think about the best way to distribute it. Is sending the PDF through email going to suffice, or should you explain it in a staff meeting or Zoom video?


Analyse Metrics and Feedback

Metrics are a great starting point to analyse the effectiveness of your program. Look at numbers like -

  • enrollment rate
  • participation rate
  • changes in health insurance costs
  • absenteeism and presenteeism

In addition, seek out feedback from employees through both formal and informal means. Gather official data through anonymous surveys that rate satisfaction. If employees are willing, talk to them about their experience in the program and what they'd like to see from it in the future. Sometimes those in-person conversations can drill down into what people really think.


Make Terryberry a Part of Your Wellness Program

We believe that everyone should have the chance to 'win' at wellness, and the Terryberry wellness platform is designed to make that a reality. Our wellness platform is combined with our complete benefits package and offers mental, physical and financial wellness for all employees.

A highly-rated benefits platform makes it easy for employees to engage from anywhere, and social features help boost participation and motivation. Ready to include Terryberry in your wellness program? Contact us today.