At Springfield College, the Campus Recreation Employee Wellness Program is a collaborative effort among departments on campus, aimed to enrich the lives of the campus community. Here, Kristen Brosius, the assistant director of Campus Recreation, breaks down the ins and outs of running an employee wellness program.
Starting the Program
When starting any program from the ground up, Brosius elaborated how important it is to have strong and meaningful partners and collaborators on campus. “Over the years, I’ve spent time working closely with our Exercise Science Department and Human Resources (HR) Department, among others, to maintain a program that is well-known and understood by our employee wellness participants,” she said.
According to Brosius, the first few steps in creating an employee wellness program are:
- Selling the program to your HR Department through their employee orientation process and getting employees to enroll.
- Gauge employee interests and needs through an initial assessment.
- Finding on-campus partners to collaborate with to keep costs down.
Incentivizing employees has shown to be an effective tool in motivating and engaging college employees. One example Brosius provided for more long-term programs is having to show that participating is worth the time and energy, and oftentimes, this can mean showing participants the money through giveaways, free stuff, etc.
The above is also helpful if monetary resources are tight. Should that happen, Brosius recommended getting creative. “For example, you could offer a free gym membership or group exercise package, etc.,” she said. “If you’re looking to get rid of some fitness equipment or accessories, package it up and give it away. If financials are a non-issue, then offering a lofty gift card seems to be a good go-to.”
Be Aware of Challenges
One of the biggest challenges with these types of programs is trying not to take low attendance and participation too personally. Additionally, you want to take measures to ensure last minute cancellations or no-shows don’t negatively affect your budget or overall program.
“Over the last few years, I noticed I would have over 30 people register for one of our ‘Motivation Monday’ healthy luncheon seminars where we foot the bill for our catering order, but only half of them would show up to the program,” said Brosius. “We were losing hundreds of dollars in catering every month, so I implemented a ‘capped program policy’ in which those who no-showed or cancelled with very little notice would not be able to register for programs for the remainder of the semester or academic year. Since then, there seems to be a better line of communication when participants register for programs or services.”
Why you Should Offer an Employee Wellness Program
Because college employees are responsible for the operations and functionality of their institutions, as well as their own their health and well-being, being well is just as important for them as it is the students they are supporting and encouraging. This is why Brosius believes it is important for professionals of higher education to model healthy and engaging behaviors for students.
“Recreation houses knowledge in regards to health and well-being, and to making a positive and meaningful impact on those in our college community, and that should certainly include our valued college employees,” she elaborated. “Keeping our college employees engaged and included can ultimately lead to their own self-motivated behaviors that can improve their health, and now more than ever, we should all be doing what we can do take care of ourselves.”