Keys to wellness program success: Strategic communication, culture of health

Both communication and building a culture of overall health are key factors in designing a succesful workplace wellness program, according to a new study from the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

In the study, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health say it's not enough for workplace to offer perks such as a gym in the facility or incentives to go to a gym. In order to be truly successful, managers must promote healthy activities throughout the work day and allow employees to actively partake in the company's work culture.

Physical and social environment comprise another key factor in wellness program success, the researchers say. Offering amenities such as healthy food offerings, fitness facilities and walking trails make dietary and activity choices healthy by default, and provide support that can be physically experienced. Social support is also key, with researchers noting the positive effects of upper management personnel openly discussing topics such as their own weight loss plans and healthy activity level.

Finally, employee engagement and strategic communication play a major role in workplace wellness, the study says. Wellness programs benefit when they make workers part of key decisions and keep them informed of how they can sign up or what benefits they will see through participation.

"Organizations with frequent and well-articulated communication campaigns were able to spend significantly less on financial incentives and still achieve high participation rates," the study says.

Similarly, a study from Humana found that employees who work in a culture that emphasizes wellness are less likely to experience health-related barriers or setbacks.

However, privacy concerns continue to be an issue with some wellness programs, and doubts have surrounded wellness plans that focus on weight loss.

To learn more:
- here is the study