Is your workplace well-being program built to last?

August 06 2018 / by Mari Ryan

 Is your workplace well-being program built to last? Will it sustain changes in leadership or program management, budget cuts, and changing employee interests?

We often hear about well-being programs that get started but that don’t sustain over time. There can be many different reasons for this. In this video we will explore the elements that are essential to make your well-being initiative sustainable.

The elements that lead to sustainability are:

  • Senior Leadership Support
  • Documented Strategic Plan
  • Strong Communications and
  • Employee Engagement

Senior Leadership Support

A sustainable well-being program has strong leadership support. The reason this is so essential is that senior leaders are responsible for defining vision and mission of the organization and are accountable for producing results. With Senior Leadership support for employee well-being, they will deliver the message of the value and benefits of employee well-being and how that links to the vision, mission, goals and objectives of the organization. Support from senior leaders also can give you access to resources you will need such as budget and the time of the people in the organization.

Documented Strategic Plan

As we have discussed in several of our videos, a documented strategic plan is essential to the sustainability of well-being in your organization. Think of this as your roadmap to success. That roadmap helps you and your team stay focused on and accountable for the goals and objectives you have set. Ideally, your strategic plan also has an evaluation element. By evaluating your program, you can communicate results to your senior leadership team to keep their sustained support.


Strong communications is a foundational element for employee well-being. Take a look at our video on this topic for more details. Without strong communications, your workforce will not know what is available, and more importantly, they will not make the connection between their own health and the health of the organization. For communications to be effective, there needs to be regular communications that are consistent in message and format, while still using multiple messaging channels.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is another key element for a sustainable well-being initiative. It may be obvious that if employees aren’t participating in the offerings of the initiative, that it is not successful. We often hear about well-being initiatives that have very low participation. Part of this can be a marketing and communications issue. More often, we see that the initiative was designed without input from the workforce. The design is often based on factors driving health care costs or identified health risks. While those are very important factors, it is also important to make sure you understand what employees want to do. I often use the example of the tobacco users. We all know that tobacco diminishes your health. Often when an employer sees they have a lot of tobacco users, they think this is what they should focus on first. But if they asked the tobacco users, they might say “I smoke to help manage my stress, if you can help me reduce my stress, I’ll probably smoke less.” Your wellness committee can serve as the voice of the workforce. But also consider getting feedback regularly from employees on their interests. Your workforce is far more likely to participate in programs and activities that are geared to their interests. In addition, involve employees in program design and implementation. In our video on Assessment, we address collecting data from your workforce.

Success in both the short term and the long term will be far more likely when you consider sustainability in designing your workplace well-being initiative.

Topics: Worksite Wellness, Wellbeing, Worksite Culture, worksite wellbeing, workplace wellbeing, workplace culture, employee benefits, hr, employee well-being, human resources

Mari Ryan

Written by Mari Ryan

Mari Ryan is the CEO/founder of AdvancingWellness and is a recognized expert in the field of workplace well-being strategy.