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Baby Steps to Building a Wellness Program -by Matt Oglesby, SVP, HR Director, CB&S Bank

    August 17, 2015

    Baby Steps to Building a Wellness Program

    by Matt Oglesby, SVP, HR Director, CB&S Bank

    Wellness programs don’t have to be complicated.  Sure, it might be nice to build one of those fancy programs based on biometric data, but who has time for that?  I live in the real world of limited time and expense.  Even with limited resources, you can make a positive impact in the world of wellness.  So, instead of waiting any longer, take a few baby steps:

    1) Slow and steady wins the race.  Even Olympic sprinters don’t start out running from the womb.  Babies learn to crawl, pull themselves up, and cautiously take their first step.  Our first step several years ago was simply to encourage participation in ScaleBack Alabama.  We had our own drawing as well for individuals and teams who lost the ten pounds during the contest.  Just through this offering, we engaged about 20% of our workforce in a healthy activity.  This year, we decided to expand our wellness offerings through a larger program which encourages employees to participate in a variety of healthy activities while earning points along the way which qualifies them for a drawing for up to $1,000 at the end of the year. 

    2) Make it fun and rewarding.  By and large, employees know they need to be living healthier.  They just need a little encouragement just like a baby who’s a little nervous about letting go of their mommy’s hands.  The emphasis is on “little”.  We don’t spend a lot of money on wellness.  In previous years, we’ve probably spent less than $2,000 while this year we will probably spend around $4,000.  The appeal of a chance to earn a little money is usually enough to motivate many to do what they know they should be doing already.  We’ve also found success in offering employees fun opportunities through softball teams, running clubs, and walk-at-lunch days.    

    3) Focus on voluntary participation.  I know this will surprise you, but babies don’t always perform upon command or do things on the parents’ timetable.  A baby will walk when the baby’s ready to walk.  You can’t really force the issue.  Not only will a voluntary wellness program reduce legal risks, it will also generally be more readily received by your employees.  Voluntary programs can give a boost to employee morale whereas mandatory programs may accomplish the opposite result.  Look beyond wellness as just a way to reduce long-term health-care costs; look at it also as an inexpensive employee benefit.  Even if wellness doesn’t save you a dime in health-care costs, you can still return a positive ROI through the employee morale boost.

    Start off with a few baby steps, and pretty soon you’ll be ready to run!