Workforce Health + Benefits

Five Strategies to Help You Set and Achieve Your Wellness Program Goals

The Importance of Setting Goals for Your Wellness Program

The term wellness can mean many different things to different people. While the phrase itself can indicate the measure of someone’s physical or mental health, the method and means of personally achieving or defining the term can vary greatly. 

To some, it can refer to participating in a yoga class or meditation session at work. For others, it can mean the commitment to establishing a nutritional health plan or workout regimen. 

However your organization decides to define wellness, the key to long-term health and well-being is getting your employee population to embrace it wholeheartedly. 

The best way to achieve this objective is to establish goals within your wellness program that everyone is able to understand and attain individually.

This not only works to build comradery within the organization, but it also helps every individual employee feel motivated to participate and achieve the identified health and wellness program objectives.

Wellness Program Intentionally

There is a big difference between implementing a wellness program that employees know about and initiating one that they actively participate in.

Taking the time and making the effort to construct a program that offers a number of perks and incentives is all for not if the employees who are supposed to be engaging in the program are unaware of its benefits to both their physical and mental health. 

For many employers, simply offering a wellness program is the primary goal so they can check a box and present themselves as ‘employee focused.’

While there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach, investing in wellness to make genuine strides toward reducing health risks among your employees (and, correspondingly, reducing cost trends) requires more purposeful action. 

Intentionally constructing your wellness program requires focused and motivated goal setting to achieve objectives.

In this blog we’ll cover two layers of goal setting, plus several strategies for setting appropriate goals and metrics.

The Two Layers of Goal Setting for Your Wellness Program.

The two layers of goal setting for your wellness program include organizational wellness objectives and individual wellness objectives

1. Organizational Wellness Objectives

On the employer/health plan level, organizational goals should be derived from data about the employee population and uses that to create specifically tailored goals. A good place to start would be analyzing aggregated medical, Rx, worker's compensation and disability claims, health risk assessment data and biometric data.

Organizational goals should be focused on the areas of improvement identified within the data with appropriate metrics that will measure success.

Example: The national average says only 6% of adult males are currently up to date with their US preventative task force age and gender recommended screenings. If your claims data says something similar, a goal for your organization through your wellness program would be to increase the number of employees compliant with their age and gender recommended screenings from 6% to 25% - which provides you with a goal by which you can measure the return on investment of your wellness program.

2. Individual Wellness Objectives

If your organizational goals for the wellness program are aimed at reducing risk and improving health, they'll need subsequent individual goals because achieving them relies on the effort of your employees.

Example: If your organizational goal is to reduce diabetes risk, you’ll need to set goals within the wellness plan for the individual to achieve to support them in reducing that risk, like encouraging someone with pre-diabetes to complete a nutrition coaching program or an educational course to help them manage their blood sugar.

By creating data-driven goals that specifically target risk areas within your organization, you are individualizing the wellness goals and incentivizing employees to not only participate, but to participate with purpose.

Five strategies to help you set wellness program objectives and metrics.

The more data you have the better, so start with available health plan and wellness data, including medical and Rx claims and wellness surveys, and build from there.

Once you’ve established the organizational goals that solve a specific, measurable problem, you can then think about what you can offer to individual employees to help them and their behavioral goals align with what the organization collectively is trying to solve.

1. Survey your employees to understand their needs and interests.

Maximize the use of employee feedback by making the content specific to the organization and the individuals completing the questionnaires. 

What you want is actionable feedback that’s related to the organizational objective, while still getting valuable feedback on what is most important to your employees.

Tip: Keep your surveys focused on pertinent topics related to this objective to maximize the data’s potential impact. Your organizational objective is to reduce the smoking rate in your population. Instead of surveying employees, “What benefits would you like to see through our wellness program?” you might ask, “Rank in order of interest: free patches, nicotine gum, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, online support, and telephonic support.”

With this feedback, you’ll be getting very actionable insight because your approach aligns with what your objective is. You’re still getting employee feedback on what they value, but you didn’t ask such an open-ended question that they came back with a completely unrelated response.

2. Learn from the successes (and failures) of other companies with similar demographics and wellness objectives.

Look at other organizations and programs for inspiration, but make sure they align with what problems your organization is looking to solve.

As wellness programs in the workplace continue to gain popularity, there’s no shortage of articles that offer different wellness ideas and testimonials of what other companies are doing. If you’re going to try to replicate a program that sounded really exciting to you, make sure it aligns with your goals and that you know in advance what types of results to expect.

3. Utilize the SMART goal methodology.

Many people and organizations can lose sight of the goals they set when they're not described and measured properly. Setting SMART goals means you can clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, and increase your chances of achieving your objectives. 

SMART stands for:

S: Specific. What do you want to accomplish and why is accomplishing it important?

M: Measurable. How will you know when it is accomplished?

A: Achievable. How will you accomplish the goal, and how realistic is it?

R: Relevant. Is accomplishing the goal worthwhile? Is it the right time? Does it match our other efforts?

T: Time-bound. What is realistic to accomplish in the time frame you've set the goal for?

4. Ensure that goals are supported from the top down.

Gain leadership support of your goals to present a unified front. Receiving budgetary support and funding is one component but true top-down support means that leadership is involved in the program and encourages involvement in both talk and action.

Don’t hear what we’re not saying – you don’t need to sign up your CEO for the local marathon. Just make sure that members of your leadership team are present and encouraging employees to take part in wellness initiatives and activities at your company.

If employees see the entire organization – from management on down – engaging in the wellness program and working toward established goals, they will be more likely to buy in and participate.

5. Be sure your goals are flexible and adjusted as needed.

If you don’t take the time to refine your strategy once you collect preliminary data, you won’t achieve your goals. 

Wellness is a long-term strategy that each year, each data point, and each employee has an impact on when it comes to the overall performance and success. 

Making sure to adjust your goals and course of action in accordance with these changing factors is essential to achieving a sustainable wellness program and attaining long-term organizational success.

Let us help you collect & analyze data to ensure your wellness program remains on track.

At Bravo, we believe in the power of data. With our data collection and analysis methods, we make the data work for you. 

We use data and financial analysis to help your program stay on track and adjust it if needed. Overall, our reporting will showcase how your program is impacting health risks within your population.

Let’s talk data and goals. Learn more about Bravo's process: 

Analyze Your Wellness Program Outcomes

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