Updated: May 28, 2020
Written by Toni Sperlbaum
Whether your wellness program is in its infancy or has been around for a while, The Institute for Health and Productivity Studies has determined that there are three primary best practices to be successful; leadership support/promotion, devoting sufficient resources to health promotion efforts, and a wellness committee.
Have you ever heard the phrase “Culture eats strategy for lunch”? We as HR professionals can strategize the “best wellness program” all day long, but if your culture is directly interfering with your wellness efforts (your manager rolls their eyes when you leave to do your biometric health screening, walking or stretch breaks are considered you skimping out on your job, the organization celebrates “Donut Friday” every week, etc.), then the strategy means nothing. A wellness committee is going to be the accountability point for your strategic plan and will be the grassroots effort to changing that culture.
The role of a wellness committee is to communicate, participate in, motivate, and support the organization’s worksite wellness program. They will foster collaboration and enthusiasm among employees, provide a link between employees and management, represent and share co-workers’ ideas and concerns, encourage a positive work environment, and can reshape the company’s culture to promote healthy living.
What are the best practices?
Meet regularly (every other month or quarterly)
Call for new members annually
Set terms on your committee to continue getting fresh ideas
Get a good cross section of representatives, considering gender, age, type of departments/workers, management types, etc.
Don’t get all of your runners and skinniest people on the committee. This is so important! It’s easy to think “they are a runner, they should be on the committee!” The truth is, unhealthy employees can relate to the unhealthiest representatives and that is exactly the kind of traction we are looking to get
Set committee procedures – have a formal agenda, create minutes, nominate a chair
Set ground rules – be prompt and courteous to others’ ideas, establish “voting” to determine which ideas get implemented, protect employee confidentiality when sharing ideas/concerns, and follow through on promises and commitments made.
Have the committee (not HR) develop the strategic plan, a mission statement, and a vision for the program. The mission statement is there to guide activity planning and facilitate smart spending (your CFO will love that). If the activities do not directly impact the mission statement, it is not carried out.
HR should not be involved in this committee. It should be employee run for the most effective results (although holding the chair accountable through one-on-one touch-bases is absolutely acceptable and encouraged).
Other ideas for committees
Have your CEO put out a letter or video charging the organization to make wellness a priority, and invite members to join the committee. This will very boldly give permission.
Have supervisors nominate their employees. This gets supervisors involved, giving permission for their employee’s participation, and give them the chance to recognize the employees by nominating them for a special project
Have an application process for interested employees. This lets members know what they’re in for and committing to.
Host an awards luncheon at the end of the year. Give awards to committee members or wellness champions for highest personal participation in activities, the highest group participation in screenings/HRAs, the most additional programs implemented, and many others! Invite supervisors, senior leadership, and even family members would be great recognition for the employee.
There are many ways to utilize a wellness committee, but if you have many of the above processes in place, your committee is off to a GREAT start!