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Building Participation and ROI in an Employee Wellness Program

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, November 19, 2012

Steps to setting up a wellness program
The seeds of the employee wellness program began three years ago when Swedish Medical Center began providing resources to employers in its service area to set up wellness programs or health clinics for their employees. Swedish leadership realized that if they were in the business of setting up wellness programs, they ought to have one of their own.

One of the first steps was hiring a dedicated manager for the Swedish program. LeBlanc came to Swedish from the National Heart Association, where she had built a program to get people to walk for 30 minutes a day.

"So many companies build a wellness program where somebody in HR is tasked with it, but it's not really their passion or skill set," says LeBlanc, who has a background in communications. "I think it's important, in order to have these successes, that it's something a full-time employee is focused on."

Swedish's Labor Management Committee, which designed the wellness program, is composed of 15 members of the hospital staff. "So we designed this program hand-in-hand with labor. And due to that, we had our health and wellness champions in our labor teams, who would spread the word," LeBlanc says.

LeBlanc credits the targeted, regular, and diverse communications methods with Swedish employees as a major key to success. From regular information on the intranet to "mini-memo" emails to mailed newsletters to employees' homes, employees received a regular flow of information about health and wellness. Managers also had financial incentives to discuss the program with their direct reports.

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