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Worksite Health and Wellness Program: Obtaining Leadership Support

Posted Sep 26 2008 3:58pm

Strong and visible leadership support for the Worksite Health and Wellness Program promotes health and is vital to securing necessary Worksite Health and Wellness Program resources (staff, time, and money) and implementing recommended changes.

1. Identify a Worksite Health and Wellness Program champion

In a small company, there may be a single leader who is the clear choice to champion the Worksite Health and Wellness Program. In a larger company, look for an executive with the authority to sway others in the highest levels of the organization regarding the Worksite Health and Wellness Program. The Worksite Health and Wellness Program champion need not be the fittest member of leadership. Rather, look for a Worksite Health and Wellness Program leader with the disposition to be a visible and vocal supporter of workplace policies that encourage healthy behaviors. Organizations with multiple sites can consider whether it would be useful to have an executive Worksite Health and Wellness Program champion at each site.

2. Find existing Worksite Health and Wellness Program allies

There may already be a number of individuals within your company who recognize the value of a Worksite Health and Wellness Program. Think about who those individuals are in your company; consider areas such as occupational safety, union representatives, risk management, medical officers, and human resources when looking for a Worksite Health and Wellness Program ally. Capture their stated support for the Worksite Health and Wellness Program. Worksite Health and Wellness Program support could include contributions of staff time or expertise, financial resources, agreement to endorse/support policy and environmental changes, or agreement to participate in, and voice their support for, changes in the workplace that will help to build a culture of health.

3. Build a business case for the Worksite Health and Wellness Program

There is a reason that more and more companies are finding a way to promote employee health via a Worksite Health and Wellness Program and policies: A Worksite Health and Wellness Program makes good business sense. employees with healthy behaviors, on average, are more productive when at work (higher presenteeism)1 and incur lower healthcare costs than workers with less healthy behaviors.2,3  As a result it would be foolish not to have a Worksite Health and Wellness Program.

4. When developing a Worksite Health and Wellness Program use what you know about leadership styles and the decision-making process within your company


Every company is different. Build leadership support for the Worksite Health and Wellness Program in the way that makes the most sense for your company. Think about the following as you plan how to approach leadership for Worksite Health and Wellness Program support:

• What are the current priorities and pressures facing executives? How could a Worksite Health and Wellness Program and a healthier workforce support those priorities?
• How do the leaders prefer to receive data: written documents? verbal presentations?
• What kinds of Worksite Health and Wellness Program information are likely to sway decisions? Do they want data and Worksite Health and Wellness Program statistics specific to your company, or are state or national data sufficient? Are the leaders more influenced by internal factors or by what competitors are doing?
• Who would the leaders see as a reliable messenger for this Worksite Health and Wellness Program information? Does someone from the risk management area carry more clout than someone from the human resources area?
• How do decisions get made in your company? Informal committee meetings? Formal or informal meetings between executives? Plan accordingly and you improve the odds that the Worksite Health and Wellness Program will become a reality.

5. Maintain Worksite Health and Wellness Program support once you have it

Once you have appropriate Worksite Health and Wellness Program support, ensure that you keep it by regularly updating the leaders on employee health and progress toward beginning a culture that promotes health. Ask upper management how frequently they want to receive Worksite Health and Wellness Program progress reports.

Source Information:
1 Bunn, JOEM, 2006, 48:10.
2 Foldes, Bland, An et al. Modifiable Health Risks and Short-Term Health Care Costs. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota internal research, submitted for publication.
3 Anderson, 2000, American Journal of Health Promotion, 15:1.
4 Wellness Program Blog

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