Worksite wellness programs are a hot topic today, with many employers launching or thinking about launching a program. You do want your program to make a difference, right?

Over the years, I have talked to worksite wellness program coordinators about their struggles with starting and growing their program. As a result, I have learned many of the common challenges coordinators face.

The Core Problem

Most coordinators are usually trained in one of the health related professions, often with an emphasis on treating individuals. As a result, they lack the knowledge or experience of how to actually run a program that is linked to the greater purpose, goals and objectives of a business or other type of organization. With limited business and organization development education and information, most coordinators lack the step-by-step strategies knowledge and skills to design and implement a program.

Starting and running a program is not easy. Based on my conversations and experience, I have come to understand the following four “truths.”

“Truth” #1: You Need to Offer Programming and Interventions to Employees

The real truth is you need to offer programming and interventions which solve employee problems. You need to first identify the problems employees have and then offer the solutions to those problems, or at the very least, help them to find the right information so they can make an informed decision about a potential solution. Organic participation and engagement arise out of your ability to successfully address employee problems.

Remember that wellness and wellbeing are more than just physical health. Health, wellness and wellbeing result from the integration of multiple determinants and dimensions.

Regardless of what your program offers, if it doesn’t solve employee problems, your offers are worthless. Seek to identify and address the life issues and problems employees are experiencing and this will enhance your program’s levels of participation and engagement.

“Truth” #2: Believing You Know Everything There Is to Know About Your Employees’ Needs

The real truth is that worksite wellness programs need a clearly identified and articulated purpose, be data driven and outcomes focused. There is danger in believing that all employees view health and wellness as being as important as we do There is also danger in oversimplifying employee issues and problems. Health and life are complex and complicated.

Worksite wellness program strategies are all based asking questions and solving problems. Strategies that are formed on the basis of extensive research and through listening to what employees are saying.

An effective and successful worksite wellness program constantly examines how to:

1. Find the REAL problems and needs

2. Solve the problem in a way the employee prefers

3. Provides demonstrated value to both the employee and the employer

“Truth” #3: You Need a Plan to Start a Worksite Wellness Program

The real truth is that while a plan might be helpful to you, what you really need is clarity of purpose and a strategy or strategies to achieve the stated purpose. A plan suggests a pre-determined course of action. Starting out, you would be wise to test out different program models.

Your initial program strategies should be based on the needs you identified in your initial organization-wide overall strengths and needs assessment and your answers to these questions: What is my target audience, what are the problems faced by those in my audience, how will the program solve their problems, how will the program offer the solutions, and why will it work? On-going research with program participants and employees in general will help you to determine the model that best fits your needs and the needs of your organization.

“Truth” #4: You Need Marketing

The real truth is you need a communications plan which is a form of marketing. You need a communications plan for how you will best reach your target audience to alert them to the benefits and value of what you have to offer.

What employees truly care about is the solution your program offers for their problem. Change is constant so times change. Strategies that were used years will no longer work today.

What can you do right now?

Use your worksite wellness program to have some fun with employees. Start your conversation with them by asking: If you had a magic wand for your health, wellness and wellbeing, what would it do

Success Plus Value

With their multi-dimensional focus, employee health, wellness and wellbeing programs can deliver considerable value to an employer. I invite you to let me help you create your own effective, successful and sustainable program. I specialize in mentoring worksite program coordinators and creating Done with You worksite employee health and well-being programs. You can contact me at

This article is brought to you by Bill McPeck, Your Worksite Wellness Mentor. I am dedicated to helping employers and worksite program coordinators create successful, sustainable employee health and well-being programs, especially in both large and small employer settings.

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