The springtime weather has fully arrived in Jacksonville, Florida…warm and sunny. It was such a day last Wednesday when the First Coast Worksite Wellness Council (FCWWC) held its Annual Awards Conference at the Herbert University Center on the campus of the University of North Florida. The First Coast Worksite Wellness Council, Inc. is an initiative of Healthy Jacksonville 2020. The mission of FCWWC is to improve the health of the First Coast (Northeast Florida) community by sharing resources and providing guidance through their member businesses. The FCWWC is the community leader in supporting workplace health and wellness programs. They provide networking opportunities, training, education and resources to support the growth and development of wellness professionals and the organizations they serve.
2018 Healthiest Companies Awards
A major feature of the conference was the 2018 Healthiest Companies Awards Luncheon recognizing companies for their efforts in creating a culture of health & wellness within their organizations. Awards were provided at four levels, below is a description of the type of wellness program associated with each award level:
- Bronze Level – Bronze award winners have started to make small changes to their workplace to encourage employees to improve their health and well-being. Examples of these changes may include sending communications promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors, encouraging employees to complete an annual wellness visit with their physician and promoting a culture of health through fun on-site activities and community events.
- Silver Level – Silver award winners have established more of a foundation for their wellness program. In addition to promoting a healthy lifestyle through communications and on-site activities, they’ve also established wellness champions and allocated funds toward the implementation of their program. They also offer programs that address other dimensions of wellness, not just physical well-being.
- Gold Level – Gold award winners have dedicated additional resources to ensure that their programs are being properly measured each year. They conduct an annual employee needs and interest survey, have a wellness operating plan and strategically select programs that will address their most prevalent health risks and conditions.
- Platinum Level – Platinum award winners have best in class wellness programs and have truly created a culture of health and well-being throughout their organization. They have full leadership support and invest in necessary resources to strategically design, implement and measure programs that show demonstrated improvement in the health and well-being of their employees.
I was extremely pleased to learn that several of my friends’ and LinkedIn connections’ companies received Platinum Level awards including; Availity, Baptist Health, Brooks Rehabilitation, Crowley Maritime Corporation, Florida Blue, and Florida First Coast YMCA. Congratulations on having a best in class wellness program!
What About Next Year?
Are you an organization in Northeast Florida seeking similar recognition for your wellness program in 2019? Not located in the region, however desirous of a best class workplace wellness program in your company? Fortune Magazine offers several best practices that can be used as benchmarks.
These best practices include:
- Programs Are Practical and Accessible
- The Work Environment is Health Conscious
- Wellness Is Integrated into the Company’s Structure
- Wellness Is Linked to Existing Support Programs
- Health Screenings and Education Are Offered
If your wellness initiative already includes these practices, what else can you do to enhance or optimize your wellness offerings? The answer is to make it more inclusive by ensuring that disabled employees who are more likely than their coworkers to have secondary health conditions, feel included and have equal access. Therefore adding a level of inclusion to workplace wellness programs is both the smart and right choice.
Workplace Wellness Programs and Accessibility for All
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Include employees with disabilities in wellness program planning either on the wellness committee or working closely with the wellness coordinator to ensure program activities are accessible and meet the needs of all employees.
- Ensure accessibility of marketing materials by providing a variety of formats such as audio, picture-based, large print and accessible electronic formats. Create inclusive marketing materials by using images of people with and without disabilities, person-first language, and inclusive terminology such as “Moving Meeting vs. Standing Meeting” and “Run.Walk.Roll 5k.”
- Provide relevant incentives for employees with a variety of abilities
- Create accommodations when appropriate. For example, a walking program encouraging 10,000 steps a day may not be appropriate for all employees. Instead allow employees to track steps or movement throughout the day and encourage an increase in activity.
- Provide a map of accessible routes to increase physical activity throughout your worksite’s campus instead of only promoting the stairs.
- Consider a smoke-free workplace policy which will impact all employees, but especially employees with disabilities, since they are more likely to smoke cigarettes (25.4% vs. 17.3%).
- Include healthy options in vending machines and ensure they are accessible to employees who may use a wheelchair.
The Diversity Divide in Wellness Programming
The American Medical Association (AMA) Journal of Ethics argues that employee wellness programs and the wellness philosophy create a power divide that continues to grow between healthy workers and those with disabilities (as well as other minority groups with limited access to resources for health and safety); those who are healthy (and have access to resources) are rewarded for getting healthier, while other groups are unable to benefit and therefore drop further behind.
If programs fail to take into account racial and ethnic differences among their intended populations, employers miss opportunities to maximize the return on their investment of millions of dollars in the health and well-being of their employees whether they are providing disease-management and wellness programs or not. An article in Corporate Wellness Magazine points out that it’s imperative to understand what and how to offer programs that respond to the needs and cultural preferences of members of a diverse workforce. It’s no surprise that while more and more companies offer wellness opportunities, slow return on investment and impatience leave many employers running the risk of undermining the long-term success of their own programs.
Work Without Limits, an initiative of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has a mission to create solutions that maximize employment opportunities and improve the health and well-being of people with disabilities served by wellness programs. Work Without Limits also offers tips for ensuring that your corporate wellness program has inclusive accessibility.
Close the Diversity Gap in Your Wellness Program
Small but significant steps is all that’s required for a more inclusive corporate wellness program. Congratulations in advance for your world class wellness initiative in 2019!