The Components of a Comprehensive Worksite Wellness Program

As the science behind Worksite Wellness Programs continues to evolve, the need to define succinctly the components of this comprehensive approach increases. In 1987 Allensworth and Kolbe (1987) expanded the prevailing definition of comprehensive school health to include the domains of Health Instruction, Environmental Health, Health Services, Physical Fitness Education, Counseling and Psychological Services, School Food Service, Worksite Wellness Programs for Faculty and Staff, and the Integration of School and Community Resources.

To promote the health of school children, prevention specialists have realized that an integrated comprehensive approach is the most effective strategy. Relying solely on health education or Physical Fitness Education initiatives to foster children’s health has demonstrated limited effectiveness. Consistent health messages delivered by numerous agents increases the possibility of attaining health goals and objectives. A similar model is essential if Worksite Wellness Programs are to impact positively on the health and performance of all staff members.

A comprehensive model of Worksite Wellness Programs includes the following components; Health Education Strategies, employee Health Services and Benefits, physical fitness and nutrition Strategies, Worksite Wellness Program Policies and Procedures, Counseling and Employee Assistance Programs, a Safe and Healthy Work Environment, and the Integration of Company and Community Resources. This model can be used to evaluate and plan for Worksite Wellness Programs that are truly comprehensive in nature, focusing on primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention strategies for staff members.

One value of a truly comprehensive model is that it is possible to promote a holistic approach of employee health. A healthy, productive employee is one who is given the opportunity to develop physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually and spiritually. In addition, this model supports the ideals of wellness and optimal health by encouraging worksites to go beyond initiatives designed to only reduce healthcare costs, prevent disease, or maintain health.

A primary factor in the utility of this model is the integration and overlap of responsibilities. Implementation and design are dependent upon the motivation of qualified – and ideally – credentialed professionals throughout the administrative structure of a employer. Such a model requires consistent communication between health educators, medical staff, human resource managers, physical therapists, industrial hygienists, physical fitness physiologists, ergonomic engineers, dietitians, occupational therapists, psychologists and independent consultants. Planning must also incorporate active involvement of workers, administrators, family members, and employer retirees at all stages of the development, implementation and evaluation stages. All must be committed to the development of a healthy organization where staff members are happy and proud to work.

Various professional organizations are working to advance the science of Worksite Wellness Programs. Health educators have the expertise and training to be leaders in this field. On the basis of theoretical foundations of health behavior and the results of empirical research, we must begin to articulate a clear vision of what optimal initiatives should consist of. The Components of this model are included below for reference and will be discussed individually in coming posts.

• Health Education
• physical fitness and nutrition Strategies
• employee Health Services and employee Benefits
• Employee Assistance Programs and Counseling Programs
• Safe and Healthy Work Environment
• Health Related employer Policies and Procedures
• Integration of employer and Community Resources

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