Programs, such as lifestyle interventions aimed at improving unhealthy behaviors, are at the heart of workplace health promotion initiatives. Choosing the right programs to implement, and fully implementing them in the recommended way, is critical to success. First, your choice of which programs to implement should be grounded in scientific evidence of what works and what does not. For example, research supports the recommendation that the best programs are comprehensive, meaning they address both individual and organizational health across multiple dimensions including physical, mental, social, emotional, financial and spiritual. Comprehensive programs also address many risk categories, for example smoking, diet, physical activity and stress. These programs can be delivered using multiple modalities including personal coaching, social media, video, competitions and lectures. Although electronically delivered interventions are an acceptable alternative to in-person interventions, current research shows that in-person interventions generally produce greater effects, such as weight loss in weight management programs.1 Consequently, worksite wellness planners need to take into consideration the cost and effectiveness of the types of programs they select. Importantly, creating a healthy company culture in which health promotion programs reside is critical to the success of initiatives. Programs should be customizable, involving workers in their design and implementation, and adaptable, to ensure they reach vulnerable and hard to reach populations such as people with disabilities and ethnic minorities. To encourage employee engagement, programs can offer financial and non-financial incentives for participation. Incentives can boost enrollment in programs like voluntary biometric screenings and Health Risk Assessments (HRAs), which are effective tools only when paired with follow-up health education and behavior change interventions. Finally, leveraging internal organizational and community partnerships will aid program development. Below, we explain each of these elements in further detail.

Working Well: Top Tips for Successful
Program Design and Implementation

When looking for guidance, seek credible sources that employ scientific evidence and case studies

Incorporate the five key elements of a comprehensive program

Customize programs to serve employees with different levels of education, risk, tech savviness or readiness to change

Use incentives to encourage participation

Offer free, voluntary biometric screenings or health risk assessments

  • Use Scientific Evidence to Guide
    Programmatic Decision Making

  • Offer Comprehensive Programs that
    Address Modifiable Unhealthy Behaviors

  • Make Programs Customizable

  • Reach Vulnerable and At-Risk Populations

  • Consider Using “Smart” Incentives
    to Encourage Participation

  • Offer Voluntary Biometric Screenings,
    Health Risk Assessments and
    Follow-up Health Education

  • Leverage Partnerships

  • References