A workplace wellbeing program includes activities carried out within your workplace that aim to positively impact on the health and wellbeing of your workers.
The type of activities you offer and the cost will depend on your workplace culture, size and location.
Signs of a successful wellbeing program
- It’s cost effective and doesn’t have to be expensive.
- It’s integrated with your workplace safety efforts.
- You assess your workers’ needs to identify health issues in the workplace.
- It addresses individual and organisational issues.
- Participation is voluntary, but high.
- All workers can take part in its activities and information, regardless of their health status, whether they’re full-time or part-time, if they work shifts, or if they work in the field or on the road.
- It’s sustainable and has a long-term commitment from workers and managers.
- It has management support, and senior managers are actively involved.
- It has a co-ordinator with access to resources and training relevant to health promotion.
- You evaluate and review it regularly.
Step 1: Get your manager’s commitment
It’s important to get solid commitment and support from senior managers, and to make sure they understand the program’s aims, expectations and resources needed.
You’ll probably see a higher level of worker participation and enthusiasm if senior managers actively take part in your activities.
Identify a co-ordinator: a key person who will manage all the activities. This might be someone with human resources or health and safety as a part of their role.
Step 2: Organise a working group
Now organise a working group/committee to help implement your program.
This may be a new role for an existing group, such as the work health and safety group; in a smaller workplace, it may be just one or two keen people!
Ideally, all levels and areas of your workplace are represented. The co-ordinator should take a lead role establishing regular meeting times, following up on actions, and ensuring progress stays on track.
Step 3: Find out what your workers need
Finding out what your workers want and need gives your program a direction and a greater chance of success.
So ask them! Do they want to:
- start exercising?
- eat better?
- stop smoking?
- manage their stress?
- have more flexible working hours?
In a small workplace, you can simply ask the question at a team meeting and see what topics come up.
In a large workplace, you might need to do a survey (see Resources below for samples). Surveys should be voluntary, confidential and anonymous. Assure your workers that the information they provide won’t be made public or used for the wrong reasons.
Share the overall results (not identifying anyone personally) with managers and workers to show you’re listening.
Look at your facilities
Review your workplace facilities. You may already have showers, change rooms, a room that could be used for lunchtime yoga, or a bike rack, or you may need to find or update these so there are no barriers to participation.
Step 4: Develop an action plan and policy
Create a plan for your wellbeing program to keep you focused and organised. It doesn’t have to be formal or complex. To develop your plan:
- set a program goal. Be realistic: don’t try to fix everything at once! Look at what really stood out in your survey.
- set program objectives. These are the specifics to support your goal.
- identify the strategies/activities for each objective and set a timeline of these activities. So your strategy to support healthy eating and fresh fruit could be to
- identify resources, facilities and expertise for each activity
- choose activities that appeal to a broad spectrum of your workers.
See Resources below for a sample.
From your survey, you identified your workers eat only half the recommended serves of fresh fruit and vegetables. So:
- Your goal could be providing workers with healthier food options.
- Your objective may be increase fruit intake by 20% over the next 12 months.
- Your strategies would be providing a fruit bowl in the kitchen, plus promotional activities to raise awareness of the health benefits of fresh fruit.
- Your resources might be organising delivery or someone to buy it and having a fridge to store it in hot weather if necessary.
- Your activity is finally having the fruit bowl and promoting it to workers!
Create a wellbeing policy
You should also create a simple workplace wellbeing policy. See Resources below for a sample. Communicate this to your workers and display it in your workplace.
Step 5: Put it into action!
Now it’s time to see your planning in action.
Promote your activities: though email, posters, newsletters, and at staff meetings. Don’t forget field workers who don’t have office or computer access.
Consider linking your activities with other community events and taking advantage of their promotional activities. This might include events such as Diabetes Awareness Week, Mental Health Week or Nutrition Month.
Step 6: Monitor and evaluate your program
Keep track of your program to make sure it’s working. Ask workers if they’re participating and how they’re going if they are. You could re-do your original survey and compare the results.
Share the overall results with managers and workers to show you’re listening and will either make changes or continue on!
Remember, all good things take time, and you can’t expect everything to change straight away. The benefits of a workplace wellbeing program may spread out over several years.
Step 7: Update your program
If you’ve been running your program for a year or so and have had some great results, it might be a good time to work out what to concentrate on next.
Send out your survey again to find out how workers’ needs have changed and how you can update your program in response.
Grab your action plan and work out which activities are no longer needed, and where you might need more emphasis.