How can Wellness Programs Really Work? People Have to Want it

Workplace wellness programs have blossomed across the country. This is due in part to the Affordable Care Act’s incentives pushing companies to encourage healthier lifestyles for employees. In fact, almost half of the nation’s employers offer workplace health or wellness programs. But how effective are they in improving someone’s overall health?

More and more studies are surfacing to prove that these initiatives aren’t as effective as previously thought. What was once assumed an easy way to help employees get healthy and pay less on health insurance, now seems to miss the mark on anticipating an employee’s individual needs.

This is mainly because employees who stand to gain the most benefits are probably not getting involved. “The people who are going to participate are possibly the people that are already active, therefore the program may not move the needle forward,” says Jo Calnan, supervisor of Population Health and Patient Experience at Winchester Hospital.

The Transtheoretical Model

A decades-old practice can help people discover a willingness to change behavior. It is known as the transtheoretical model. It was developed as a set of stages to help smokers quit back in the 1970’s. “There are five stages of readiness….if a person is not ready to improve their health, they are likely to resist utilizing these [workplace wellness] programs,” says Calnan. And while there are definitely barriers to success, Calnan suggests patients will have better outcomes when they have moved from the preparation to action stage.

  1. Pre-contemplative
    Understanding your behavior is problematic.

  2. Contemplative
    Intending to start healthier behavior.

  3. Preparation
    Taking small steps and the belief this will lead to a better life.

  4. Action
    Changing behavior and intending to continue by adding healthier behavior.

  5. Maintenance
    Sustained behavior and efforts made not to relapse.

Feeling Ready? Give These Workplace Wellness Ideas a Go

  • Take walks during your lunch break. It’s a great form of exercise that requires no training, can relieve stress, and is completely free. Encourage your other co-workers to join you.

  • Find a quiet place in the office to meditate for just a few moments. It’s a great way to de-stress and improve concentration.

  • Utilize your office gym before, during, or after work, or find an affordable gym nearby that you can factor into your commute.

  • Push for a standing desk

Ultimately, says Calnan, “a strong employee wellness program should be inventive — not costly.  Ideally, it would have a large following from organization leadership and be viewed as a part of each employee’s benefits.”

For more information on staying healthy in the work place, speak with your health care provider.

*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

MORE IN Live Well