Leaders – 3 Areas Crucial To Wellness Program Success (Very Important!)

Senior leaders play a crucial role in wellness program success. And you do want your program to be successful, right?

Excellent senior leaders are wellness leaders and play an active role in their organization’s wellness program. Three areas under leadership control are especially crucial to program success. These areas are:

• Personnel

• Planning

• Finances


Early in the wellness program’s development, a decision needs to be made regarding the program’s infrastructure, including personnel. Besides personnel, program infrastructure typically involves a wellness committee and wellness champions.

Typically, employer size plays a determining role in the type and number of personnel needed to staff a program. Beginning at 100 employees, a case can be made for the appropriateness of having program staff. The following staffing guidelines can be used:

  • 100 Employees – 0.4 FTE Staff
  • 250 Employees – 0.5 FTE Staff
  • 500 Employees – 1.0 FTE Staff
  • 1000 Employees – 1.5 FTE Staff
  • 5000 Employees – 2.5 FTE Staff

These personnel can be either internal wellness program staff or vendor provided staff.

A wellness committee or wellness program advisory group needs to be representative of the whole organization. Committee size will reflect the size of the organization. The role and responsibilities of the committee needs to be determined as well. One key decision that needs to be made is whether the committee will address employee safety and other employee wellbeing issues, in addition to employee wellness.

Wellness champions are typically employees located at their individual worksites who demonstrate a passion for or have an interest in employee wellness. The champions typically serve as the connection between the wellness program, the wellness committee and the worksite. The roles and responsibilities of the champions can vary significantly between programs, so their roles and responsibilities need to be clarified early on as well. Champions typically serve as communication links and provide peer support to their colleagues relative to employee wellness related matters.


Wellness program planning is critical as it determines the future of your program. As a leader, you should make your expectations and wishes related to the wellness program known early on in the program’s planning process. Most employers generally short change the planning process to the detriment of their program down the road. Too often employers are in a hurry to launch wellness related activities, so they minimize the needed planning.

The planning process should focus initially on the results, strengths, needs and gaps identified during the organization’s comprehensive needs assessment and analysis. Planning should occur at two levels:

• Strategic

• Operational

The strategic plan should address employee wellness from a high level and look 2 – 5 years out. The operational plan is an annual plan that addresses how the selected programming and interventions will be rolled out, how they will be evaluated and how the program’s annual budget will be utilized.


Finances are the area where senior leaders can have the greatest impact. More often than not today, worksite wellness programs are underfunded for the purpose for which they were created. I also often see too great a reliance on no cost or low-cost programming or interventions.

The nature, sophistication and comprehensiveness of your program is a reflection of the program’s budget. Employee wellness program costs can range from $45 per employee per year to $450 per employee per year, not including incentive costs. In 2014, the average annual incentive cost is said to average $531 per employee.

Personnel, planning and finances are three areas, under the control of leadership, that are critical to employee wellness program success.

Be Successful

While these 3 areas are critical to program success, program success involves much more. I invite you to allow me to help you with your wellness leadership needs. I can help you access numerous leadership tools, resources and materials. I can also help you create an effective, successful and sustainable program. I specialize in mentoring worksite program coordinators and creating Done With You employee well-being programs.

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