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WELCOA 7 Cs – Best Practices

Best Practices When Developing a Wellness Program

The Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA), an organization dedicated to the promotion of worksite wellness, has identified the seven best practices (“The Seven C’s”) for employers to follow when building a comprehensive, effective worksite wellness program within their organization.*

1) Capture senior-level support
A commitment from the top is critical to the success of any wellness initiative. Management must understand the benefits of the program for both the employees and the organization and be willing to put funds towards its development, implementation and evaluation. Descriptions of what competitors are doing in the way of health promotion and linking health promotion to business goals, values and strategic priorities will help to secure senior management support. Managers who “walk the talk” and take part in the program will go a long way to driving others to participate as well.

2) Create a wellness team
Wellness teams should include a cross-section of potential program participants including employees. Your team should include individuals who will have a role in program development, implementation and evaluation. This ensures broad ownership of the program and more innovative ideas. A wellness team will help to garner “buy in” from both management and the participants, develop a program that is responsive to the needs of all potential participants, and will be responsible for overseeing all of the company’s wellness efforts.

3) Collect data that will drive your health initiatives
Once your team is in place and management is on board, it is time to gather baseline data to help assess employee health interests and risks. The results of your data collection will guide you in what kind of health programs to offer. This process may involve a survey of employee interest in various health initiatives, health risk assessments, and claims analysis to determine current employee disease risk.

4) Craft an annual operating plan
For your wellness program to succeed, you must have a plan. An annual operating plan should include a mission statement for the program along with specific, measurable short-and long-term goals and objectives. Your program is more likely to be successful if it is linked to one or more of the company’s strategic initiatives, as it will have a better chance of maintaining the support of management throughout the implementation process. A written plan also provides continuity when members of the wellness committee change and is instrumental in holding the team accountable to the goals, objectives, and timeline agreed upon.

5) Choose appropriate health initiatives
The health initiatives that you choose should flow naturally from your data (survey, HRA aggregate report, claims) to goals and objectives. They should address prevailing risk factors in your employee population and be in line with what both management and employees want from the wellness program.

6) Create a supportive environment
A supportive environment provides employees with encouragement, opportunity, and rewards. A culture of health that supports worksite health promotion might have such features as healthy food choices in their vending machines, a no-smoking policy and flexible work schedules that allow workers to exercise. A workplace that values health will celebrate and reward health achievements and have a management team that models healthy behavior. Most importantly, a culture of health involves employees in every aspect of the wellness program from their design and promotion to their implementation and evaluation.

7) Consistently evaluate your outcomes
Evaluation involves taking a close look at your goals and objectives and determining whether you achieved your desired result. Evaluation allows you celebrate goals that have been achieved and to discontinue or change ineffective initiatives.

*For more information on the Wellness Councils of America, please see WELCOA’s Website at

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