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3. Lay Groundwork

​Identify wellness program elements already in place at the worksite.

If you already have a wellness effort in place, you will need to work with those involved in your wellness team to transition to the Healthier U model. Communicate to those involved in current wellness activities that the department will be adopting the Healthier U model and solicit their support for and involvement in the transition process. It is important that you recognize and celebrate the work that has already been done.

Adopt Healthier U mission

Review and adopt the Healthier U mission, vision, and goals. Review your department's mission, vision and strategic plan and identify how Healthier U is in alignment.

Adopt general Healthier U outcomes

Articulating outcomes provides the basis to check on progress. Choose 2-3 manageable outcomes and measures. For example, you might choose high level of employee engagement (measured by participation numbers) and improved workplace wellness culture (measured through an employee survey).

If your department is using the Healthier U logo, review branding policy and submit request for approval to CalHR (

The Healthier U logo is the property of the Healthier U Steering Committee. If using the Healthier U logo, the department must comply with certain goals, including that it be a labor-management partnership. (branding policy and approval form)

Wellness goals and outcomes are presented, reviewed and adopted by the Advisory Committee.

Determine Department's Annual Healthier U goals

In collaboration with the AC, establish a process to develop an annual plan for Healthier U at your department, including goals for the year and accompanying campaigns and activities. All activities should align with the goals adopted by the AC.

Review employee engagement best practices.

Determine methods for achieving broad employee participation

Employee engagement in Healthier U is one of the key elements of the model. Engagement means promoting participation among all levels of employees, including represented employees and managers, and across a diverse range of classifications. It also means identifying potential leaders and training them to develop and promote wellness activities at the workplace. The involvement of Labor is crucial in this area because of their expertise in employee engagement, particularly the ability to reach a broad range of employees, identify and train potential leaders, and provide support to keep them involved.

Determine how to most effectively reach employees and promote their participation in wellness. Traditional communications (email blasts, wellness intranet page, fliers, etc.) should be combined with personal conversations with represented employees and mid-level managers. This combined approach is much more effective in achieving employee engagement than general communication methods alone.

Confirm motivation methods for engaging employees

Healthier U found offering wellness activities that encourage employees to work in teams, promote friendly competition toward a collective goal, show visible leadership support, and provide recognition are effective motivation methods. The motivation guidelines will provide a framework, but tailor the guidelines to meet the needs of your department. Review workplace wellness literature on intrinsic motivation as part of your process. Make sure that your employee engagement and communication strategies align with the motivation guidelines.

​Employee Engagement Best Practices to Include

Strategies for:

  • Encouraging all employees to participate in Healthier U activities
  • Increasing participation in employee surveys
  • Recruiting and training employee leaders (AC and boosters) and providing ongoing support
  • Soliciting input from employees to identify barriers for participation in wellness activities

Through methods such as:

  • Employee to employee conversations
  • Healthier U staff to employee conversations (by department Wellness Coordinator or Labor)
  • Leadership promotion: announcements at executive meetings, manager/supervisor meetings, division/section/unit staff meetings
  • Mid-level manager engagement (to participate in activities; to serve on the AC)
  • Email, intranet, social media, fliers at elevators or in break rooms, items in online or print newsletters

​Draft a calendar of current year wellness activities aligned with departmental goals and interest survey responses.

There are many ways to involve employees in developing the annual calendar. Whatever format you use (e.g., half-day retreat, during AC meetings, etc.), make sure to:

  • Provide a chance for AC members to initially talk in pairs or small groups so those who tend to be quieter have a chance to think through and develop their ideas before sharing in the larger group.
  • Have large group discussion for everyone to provide input on the pros and cons of the ideas generated.
  • Give employees the opportunity to indicate their priorities.

Decide what campaigns and activities to implement

Campaigns and activities should be fun, easy to do, and involve teamwork as much as possible. They should also support your goals and align with the Healthier U framework. Campaigns require more planning to implement, so consider balancing the state online challenge—Healthier U Connections— ( with smaller activities throughout the year.

Factors to consider when choosing activities:

  • Employee priorities as expressed in the employee interest survey.
  • Resources required (financial, staff, and employee time).
  • Providing enough activities, but not so many as to overwhelm employees.
  • Facilities available (rooms, outside space, etc.).
  • Other events taking place that you don't want to compete or conflict with.
  • Timeline for implementation to maximize participation.

Define program marketing and communication strategy, including calendaring events, highlighting employee success stories, and outlining approval process.

Set up a meeting with your department's communication office. Determine process for implementing your marketing and communication strategy (i.e., frequency of meetings with communication team, approval process for emails, posting fliers, and writing newsletters).

Once the annual wellness calendar is decided, the communications strategy should be expanded to incorporate promotion of all calendared activities.

Comprehensive marketing and communication strategy will consider:


  • Launch Healthier U with department directorate support to help employees understand the department's commitment to promote workplace wellness activities
  • Ongoing messaging to promote a culture of wellness


  • Leadership promotion at all levels
  • One-on-one communications
  • Visuals (e.g. fliers, print materials promoting events, etc.)


  • Complement the employee engagement strategy
  • Use Healthier U motivation guidelines as basis to promote activities
  • Demonstrate departmental leadership support
  • Highlight employee success stories
  • Consider timing for communications (best days of week, time of month, etc.)

Partner roles and resources

  • Define role each partner will play in communications
  • Clarify resources each partner brings (e.g., access to all employees, templates, amount of staff time)

Review wellness policies, templates, and guidelines.

Department wellness coordinators seek guidance in implementing wellness programs. Healthier U has found that it is the absence of policies that sometimes create confusion. Can a vendor sell on state property? Can state funding be used to support wellness activities? Is there authority to implement a wellness program? The toolkit contains the statutory authorizations and existing regulations that affect wellness. Templates and guidelines on various topics (implementing wellness fairs, template event fliers, etc.) are available to assist in developing and implementing the marketing and communication strategy to promote employee engagement.

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