How to Convince Your Employer to Introduce a Wellness Program

It’s no secret that workplace wellness programs can help employees, as well as employers. Programs that encourage employees to exercise, eat right and to cease unhealthy behaviors such as smoking can help employees feel better and be more productive -- as well as lowering the health care costs that companies have to pay out. If your company doesn’t have one yet, there is no shortage of providers and insurance company programs out there willing to sign you and your company on. But if the main hurdle is getting your boss to buy in, here are some things you should do.

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1. Get HR on Board

If you have a human resources officer on your staff, arrange a meeting with that person. This will serve a number of purposes. First, it will help you find out whether the company has made any efforts toward workplace wellness in the past, and if so, what challenges company leaders encountered in implementing it. And since administering the program and interfacing with the business’ insurance company will largely fall in the lap of your HR department, you want to make sure you have them on board before you move forward. Talk to the HR staff about your ideas and your level of commitment for managing the program.

2. Do Your Homework

Before you present your ideas to your boss, you’d better have some solid evidence as to why a workplace wellness program would work in your office. First, get a hold of your insurance company and find out what sort of discount the insurance company might offer if you should implement a wellness program. Also, find out whether the insurance company offers its own wellness program, or whether it has recommended providers you can choose from. In the U.S., provisions of the Affordable Care Act can also support wellness programs in the workplace.

Also, get some more background information you can present to your boss about the benefits of a program. Look for success stories and statistics that are similar to your company’s situation. For example, in an article in the Harvard Business Review, the authors mention that Johnson & Johnson saved about $250 million in health care costs over about ten years by implementing a wellness initiative. That’s an impressive statistic, but if your company is a tiny mom-and-pop shop, statistics about a large corporation might not bear much weight. In that example, you might be better off finding out what programs other small businesses in your area have used, and the results of their efforts.

3. Present Your Case

Next, ask your boss for a meeting over lunch or coffee. Compile all of your information into a document that you can present to your boss. Share details about how much the program will cost up-front, as well as its projected savings in other areas.  Also, talk about your ideas for your particular company, based on who you have working there, and who will manage the program.

4. Start Small and Re-Introduce

If you get a "no" from your boss right off the bat, not all is lost. In that scenario, try launching a small wellness initiative of your own. Start a walking group, for example, and poll the participants before and during the program to get information about their weight loss, their energy levels and their overall productivity before and after starting the program. After you’re seeing success with your small program, present your findings to your boss to try once again. You might also start a petition that demonstrates to the boss how many people in the workplace are indeed interested in launching the wellness program.

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If the boss still says no, you’ll at least know you’ve done your best to get something started in the workplace -- and in any case, you would still have started something positive that is helping other people feel better.

Do you think Wellness Programs are needed in the workplace? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.