Establish Employee Engagement Committees
Establish the design committee comprised of an equal number of represented employees and managers to serve 2-3 months. It would generally consist of no more than 4-6 employees depending on department size. Represented employees are recruited by Labor and managers are recruited by department leadership.
Not all employees may have an email address or access to a computer. Identifying best methods to communicate to all employees is critical to success. Impediments to a healthy environment need to be identified so efforts can be addressed as part of the wellness program.
To better understand the culture of health at the worksite, begin by conducting an "environmental scan" of the department to determine conditions that support wellness or present areas to improve. While there are many such tools available online that you can use or adapt, wellness coordinators can work with CalHR (HealthierU@calhr.ca.gov) to utilize an existing assessment.
Specific departmental related questions may be added. Labor's involvement in this step is critical in ensuring that questions developed will be relevant to employees of all classifications and to increasing the participation rate. Wellness coordinators can work with CalHR to utilize an existing employee interest survey.
(See "Important Considerations in Developing Your Employee Interest Survey," below.)
Presenting this data to executive leadership keeps them engaged in the process. After informing executive leadership, it is also important to provide the results to all employees.
1. Because this survey is likely to be one of the first Healthier U communications your department employees receive, it is important to use it as an opportunity to introduce the initiative and explain its unique elements:
2. Plan to share aggregate results in employee communications/newsletters so they know their collective voice was heard and what the data showed. As you promote activities, remind your employees that you are offering them in response to the survey data.
3. Include the survey as part of your employee engagement and communications strategies to ensure high participation rates. These strategies include one-on-one communication and visual messaging and are more than simply sending an email to employees and expecting responses.
4. Include the survey in your evaluation plan: set a goal for percentage of employees who complete the survey, and set a "stretch" goal to aim for an even higher success rate.
5. Use the opportunity to recruit potential leaders for the advisory committee and booster program.
6. Pre-test your survey with several employees before you launch it and make changes to improve the survey based on their feedback.
Establish the Healthier U Advisory Committee comprised of an equal number of represented employees and managers. Represented employees are recruited by Labor and managers are recruited by department leadership. The advisory committee should reflect diversity across classifications.
Before you begin recruiting boosters and planning wellness activities, you will want to create the advisory committee (AC). The AC plays a crucial role by providing ongoing input from those working at the site. They know the work culture, environment, and employees best and will make invaluable contributions to program planning, employee engagement, communications, activity implementation, and evaluation. Most workplace wellness programs have some sort of wellness committee, but few have equal representation of both represented employees and managers.
Considerations when establishing the Advisory Committee:
In consultation with Labor, develop a plan to recruit, interview and select AC members. Recruitment should be integrated into the employee engagement and communication strategies. In addition to using responses from the wellness interest survey, recruitment might involve an email from the director inviting applications; identification of potential leaders by wellness coordinator or Labor followed by one-on-one conversations; announcements at staff meetings; notices in newsletters; posting fliers, etc.
The wellness coordinator, in collaboration with executive leadership, should interview and select managers and decide who to accept to the AC to ensure the body meets the composition and parameters previously defined. Labor, in collaboration with the wellness coordinator, should interview and select represented employees. Each employee approved for the AC should sign the commitment form, and get their manager or supervisor's signature, and return it to the wellness coordinator.
Involving experts on disability issues, such as a reasonable accommodation coordinator, Disability Advisory Committee member, or a member appointed by the Office of Civil Rights, in program planning is critical for reaching employees with disabilities or limited mobility. Creating a seat on the AC for a disability advisor will support the AC's ability to choose or adapt activities that will be accessible to employees with varying physical abilities.
Functions of the Advisory Committee:
1. Passionate about building a culture of health at the workplace.
2. Demonstrated leadership skills or clear potential for leadership in promoting wellness at the workplace.
3. Willingness to make a commitment to assist with planning and implementation of Healthier U activities.
4. Ability to work well with others and in a group.
5. Comfort participating in and supporting a labor-management partnership.
In addition to providing input on planning and implementation, the AC can also do work such as reaching out to speakers or instructors, setting up logistics for events, staffing events, or leading events. Setting up workgroups can help focus this work. Workgroups can be based on topics such as competitions, communication, evaluation, and addressing barriers; or focused on specific time-limited activities. Consider requiring AC members to serve on at least one workgroup.
If workgroups are established, the AC should define the focus, role and responsibility of each one. Workgroups can be chaired or co-chaired by wellness coordinators or employees. The model of an employee chair provides an excellent opportunity to develop their leadership skills, including creating meeting agendas, facilitation, building teams, and overseeing follow-up.
A comprehensive wellness program includes creating a healthy environment – impediments to that environment need to be identified and addressed, whenever possible. Ways to capture barriers include utilizing the barriers form that employees can submit to the wellness coordinator, or having a regular place marker on the AC agenda that allows for discussion of barriers.
Sometimes it is a perceived barrier that doesn't actually exist, but the misperception of it needs to be dispelled. As barriers are identified, the wellness coordinator should research and bring them to the AC to discuss possible solutions and determine who will follow up to find out if the solutions generated are feasible. In some cases, barriers will need to be brought to the executive leadership for their action. Barrier forms can also be sent to CalHR Healthier U (HealthierU@calhr.ca.gov) if there is a state impact.
Wellness is more than just physical activity and nutrition. It also can be defined differently for each individual. Aspects of wellness may include, but are not limited to, financial, environmental, social, occupational, intellectual, emotional, nutritional, and physical wellness. Using survey data, organize wellness efforts into categories and set clear goals. During the planning phase, the AC will develop a calendar of activities that supports visions and goals of Healthier U and adopt outcome measures.
Establishing and maintaining boosters is a top priority that should not be overshadowed.
Identify boosters (wellness champions) to help promote health and wellness in their work environment. The booster role is an opportunity for departments to offer employees leadership development.
Recruiting boosters should be part of your employee engagement and communication strategies. Each department determines number of boosters needed and time allotment.
Holding regular orientations will allow employees to learn about the role and responsibilities of a booster, and ask questions. The wellness coordinator, in consultation with Labor, should discuss the role of the booster with the employee to get their understanding and commitment. The commitment form is a way for their manager to understand the release hours involved and the role the employee will play as a leader in the Healthier U initiative.
Having up to three hours of release time per month for six months to promote activities and attend booster trainings has proven valuable and integral to the success of Healthier U. After the designated release time period, those boosters may continue to act as a booster on their own time.
The Wellness Coordinator can provide ongoing training and support to boosters by holding regular "meet-ups" where they come together to share ideas, problem-solve, and learn new information and skills. Examples include: how to lead stretch breaks, how to promote activity among co-workers, how to have a one-on-one conversation to encourage employee participation in larger department-wide wellness activities, etc.