Wellness Committee Best Practices

                                                                                         Toni Sperlbaum                                                                                           VP of Sales and Marketing


Whether your wellness program is in its infancy or has been around for a while, The Institute for Health and Productivity Studies has determined that there are three primary best practices to be successful; leadership support/promotion, devoting sufficient resources to health promotion efforts, and a wellness committee.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Culture eats strategy for lunch”?  We as HR professionals can strategize the “best wellness program” all day long, but if your culture is directly interfering with your wellness efforts (your manager rolls their eyes when you leave to do your biometric health screening, walking or stretch breaks are considered you skimping out on your job, the organization celebrates “Donut Friday” every week, etc.), then the strategy means nothing.  A wellness committee is going to be the accountability point for your strategic plan and will be the grassroots effort to changing that culture.

The role of a wellness committee is to communicate, participate in, motivate, and support the organization’s worksite wellness program.  They will foster collaboration and enthusiasm among employees, provide a link between employees and management, represent and share co-workers’ ideas and concerns, encourage a positive work environment, and can reshape the company’s culture to promote healthy living.

What are the best practices?

  • Meet regularly (every other month or quarterly)
  • Call for new members annually
  • Set terms on your committee to continue getting fresh ideas
  • Get a good cross section of representatives, considering gender, age, type of departments/workers, management types, etc.
  • Don’t get all of your runners and skinniest people on the committee. This is so important!  It’s easy to think “they are a runner, they should be on the committee!” The truth is, unhealthy employees can relate to the unhealthiest representatives and that is exactly the kind of traction we are looking to get
  • Set committee procedures – have a formal agenda, create minutes, nominate a chair
  • Set ground rules – be prompt and courteous to others’ ideas, establish “voting” to determine which ideas get implemented, protect employee confidentiality when sharing ideas/concerns, and follow through on promises and commitments made.
  • Have the committee (not HR) develop the strategic plan, a mission statement, and a vision for the program. The mission statement is there to guide activity planning and facilitate smart spending (your CFO will love that).  If the activities do not directly impact the mission statement, it is not carried out.
  • HR should not be involved in this committee. It should be employee run for the most effective results (although holding the chair accountable through one-on-one touch-bases is absolutely acceptable and encouraged).

Other ideas for committees

  • Have your CEO put out a letter or video charging the organization to make wellness a priority, and invite members to join the committee. This will very boldly give permission.
  • Have supervisors nominate their employees. This gets supervisors involved, giving permission for their employee’s participation, and give them the chance to recognize the employees by nominating them for a special project
  • Have an application process for interested employees. This lets members know what they’re in for and committing to.
  • Host an awards luncheon at the end of the year. Give awards to committee members or wellness champions for highest personal participation in activities, the highest group participation in screenings/HRAs, the most additional programs implemented, and many others!  Invite supervisors, senior leadership, and even family members would be great recognition for the employee.

There are many ways to utilize a wellness committee, but if you have many of the above processes in place, your committee is off to a GREAT start!

National Sleep Awareness Week

                                                                              Hannah Roberts                                                                                    Winter Wellness Intern


National Sleep Awareness Week falls in March. Sleep plays an important role in maintaining physical health, mental health, quality of life, productivity, and safety. How you feel when you are awake depends on the quality and quantity of sleep your body is getting. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. In addition to getting enough sleep, regularity is key for an individuals’ sleep to be most beneficial for their body. Sleep is important for your brain to work properly, helping you to learn, problem solve, and cope with emotions.

On top of not feeling your best, not getting enough sleep can increase an individuals’ risk for various health problems. Ongoing sleep deficiency increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Individuals who are sleep deficient are also less productive at work, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes. Lack of sleep can become a safety concern when driving or operating machinery.

The National Sleep Foundation provides the following tips for a good night sleep:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule – this means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day including weekends. Regularity makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  1. Relax before bedtime – incorporate a routine to wind down leading up to bedtime. Dimming bright lights and reducing stress or anxiety is important due to their ability to make it more difficult to fall asleep. It is also important to avoid alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, and heavy meals two to three hours before going to sleep, although a light snack 45 minutes before bed is okay. Avoid electronic devices because of the light they emanate stimulates brain activity.
  1. Exercise daily – exercising (not at the expense of sleep) improves overall health and can reduce stressors making it difficult to obtain quality sleep. Higher intensity exercises are best, but incorporating light exercise is better than no exercise.
  1. Evaluate your room – the optimal sleep environment is between 60 and 67 degrees. There should be no distracting noises or lights. Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive, and that they are free from allergens that may disturb your sleep.

If you are having trouble sleeping do not hesitate to speak with your doctor. It can be helpful to record your sleep and the tips you have tried in a sleep diary to share with your physicians.