Employee Wellness Programs Should be Designed for All

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , January 31, 2011

That $60 a month for a gym membership might not seem like a lot to a hospital executive or clinician, but it can be out of reach for some folks on support staff. Exercise more? It’s hard to take a walk around the block if you live in a crummy neighborhood, or you don’t have sidewalks, or the streets aren’t lighted when you get home from work at night.    

None of these problems is insurmountable, of course, and anybody who wants to improve his health has to take most of the initiative on exercise and diet. However, bad habits can be more easily overcome when everyone on staff feels a sense of ownership with the wellness movement.

If you want employees to embrace wellness, talk to them, all of them, including the environmental staff folks working the graveyard shift. Explain what you want to achieve with your wellness program, find out what is important to them, how they’d like to improve their lives, what they’d like to see in the program, and what limitations their lifestyle may impose. You probably won’t resolve all of their problems, but you’ve at least listened to their concerns, and made it clear to them what you’re doing. That’s a good start.  

People want to be healthy. How many people enjoy being overweight, or enjoy smoking? If you want your wellness program to work for everyone, design it with everyone in mind.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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