How to Have a Successful School Employee Wellness Program
Schools have been slower to adopt employee wellness programs than businesses and other industries, but an increasing number of school are beginning to reap the benefits of these programs. Since the school atmosphere is different than a typical office, having a successful wellness program can be more of a challenge. However, just like other worksites, schools often need help keeping their employees healthy and controlling healthcare costs.
Before we talk about how to create or maintain a successful wellness program, here are some potential benefits of implementing a program in a school setting (most of these also apply other kinds of worksites, too.)
Decreased employee absenteeism. This is especially important for schools as surveys show that 1 in 4 teachers miss at least 10 days of school per year. This can be a drain on finances as the school not only has to pay the salary of the absent teacher, but for their substitute as well.
Increased employee retention and attractiveness to prospective employees
Lower healthcare and insurance costs
Positive community image
Healthy role model for students
Increased motivation to teach about health
Now, we’ve briefly covered some benefits of a wellness program. Whether your school is public or private, K-12 or a university, let’s talk about seven ways to make wellness programs work at school.
Customize the program to fit the health needs of the employees. This is important in any worksite. Use a health assessment to gather aggregate data to determine the most prevalent health risks and plan activities and initiative around that information.
Start small. While a robust wellness program is ideal in the long run, these programs can be overwhelming if introduced all at once. Add new elements to your program over time to keep the program fresh and engaging.
Communicate and make the program visible! Use as many avenues of communication as possible- texting, emails, letters, bulletin boards… whatever you have! If you have an onsite activity, take pictures and post them! People are more likely to participate in a program if they see their co-workers participating as well. If you use an online vendor, supplement the online activities with onsite activities. For example, if you are doing an online challenge to eat more veggies, provide some fresh produce onsite.
Utilize the skills and knowledge of school employees. Nurses, physical education teachers, mental health counselors, nutrition professionals, athletic trainers, and others already have an interest in health and can serve as valuable allies and resources when developing and implementing your program. Gaining support from as many people and areas within your school or school district is vital for program success.
Create a wellness committee. Include those individuals listed above, but also include employees who may not have much knowledge or background in health and wellness. This way, you can make sure your program appeals to all employees, no matter their health status.
Make the program accessible. Remove as many barriers to participation as possible. Have simple on-site activities. Partner with an online wellness platform that allows employees to participate even when time is limited.
Evaluate your program and make adjustments as needed. Collect data to see if your efforts have helped employees improve their health. This can be done by comparing health assessment data year over year, analyzing healthcare costs, and surveying employees.
If you want more information on this topic, click here for a great additional resource. Want to hear how we’ve helped schools implement wellness programs for their employees? Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.