Workforce health promotion (WHP) programs have evolved from fitness programs, to health promotion programs, to comprehensive wellness programs. In the past, the focus was on physical fitness. Today, the focus has broadened to include topics such as nutrition, mental health, and chronic disease prevention, as well as the workplace environment, policies, productivity, and others. Additionally, employers' WHP programs vary in workforce diversity, program scope, resources, and leadership support.
Experts agree that planning and designing a WHP program is essential to ensuring the program's success. Just as one would not begin a long trip without considering how to reach one's destination, planners should not begin a WHP program without mapping out where the program needs to go, and how it will get there.
Before embarking on a WHP program, consider some important attributes of a comprehensive WHP program identified from these selected planning resources:
- Support from company leadership, unions, employees, and external stakeholders
- Clear program goals and objectives that align with the overall company objectives
- Continual assessment of information important to your employer and employees, which can include health risks, employee needs, costs, benefits, productivity, and current practices
- Policies that support healthy behaviors in the workplace
- Physical environment that provides employees with access to wellness practices and health behaviors
- Employee services that provide wellness practices to employees
- Systems and procedures that evaluate program effectiveness, return on investment, and alignment with business goals
Many business tools related to project management, process improvement, and problem solving can also be applied to WHP design and implementation. Consult with your management to get information about tools that are used in your organization.
Additionally, consider reading about WHP programs at other organizations that have received achievement and recognition awards for ideas on best practices to apply in your program.