Successful workplace health promotion programs must incorporate an outcome-oriented workplace health promotion operating plan. A workplace health promotion operating plan is important because it:

Links workplace health promotion initiatives to company needs and strategic priorities;

“Legitimizes” the workplace health promotion program, which increases the likelihood of continued resources and support;

Provides continuity for the program when personnel changes occur; and

Serves as a means to evaluate the effectiveness of the health promotion programs.

Your workplace health promotion operating plan should contain the following elements:

Vision Statement. Workplace health promotion program must start here. All successful and long-lasting workplace health promotion programs, and organizations for that matter, have clear vision or mission statements. A vision statement is the envisioned future you are trying to achieve. It should include the values that drive the program along with the ultimate goals or accomplishments the program is trying to achieve. It should support the company’s overall mission statement. The following is an example of a workplace health promotion program vision statement:

To improve the health and well-being of all employee’s lives through health education and workplace health promotion activities that will support positive lifestyle change thereby resulting in improved employee productivity and morale and healthcare cost savings for company

Goals. Goals are the long-term accomplishments hoped to be achieved from the workplace health promotion program. They are more likely to be accomplished when they are realistically set, reflect the needs of both management and employees, and flow naturally from the data collected. Goals should include clear time limits, so it is easy to determine whether or not the goal has been accomplished. The following is an example of a workplace health promotion goal:

employer. will reduce the prevalence of employee smoking from 35 percent to 25 percent by the end of the next fiscal year.

Objectives. Objectives are the tactics you will implement in order to achieve the stated goals. They should be written like goals so that it is clear whether or not they have been accomplished and include specific action steps along with a timeline for completion. The following are examples of objectives that would each be supported by particular actions steps:

By x date, the company will implement a smoke-free workplace policy.

By x date, thecompany will offer all employees a health risk appraisal and will follow up with smokers by x date.

By x date, the company will offer employees and their spouses smoking cessation classes to help them to quit smoking.

In November, the company. will participate in the Society’s Smoke out activity.

Timeline. Develop a realistic timeline to both implement and evaluate the workplace health promotion program. The timeline will incorporate key dates contained in the objectives and goals. Health promotion programs are generally kicked off at the start of the new year when people are making resolutions and then remarketed at least two more times throughout the year. Workplace health promotion activities should be scheduled at times that are convenient for all potential participants, so it may be necessary to offer multiple sessions including evening sessions.

Budget. It takes resources to carry out the objectives necessary to accomplish the workplace health promotion program goals. Your workplace health promotion program budget may include such items as salaries, program materials, administrative needs, outside vendors, evaluation and the costs associated with incentives used to drive participation. A comprehensive budget is essential during the evaluation process as program costs are compared to outcomes.

Communication Plan. You must communicate and market your workplace health promotion program to increase employee awareness and drive participation. Your operating plan should address the types of marketing efforts that will be used to inform your employees about your workplace health promotion plan. Specific communication techniques will vary depending on the size of your company and your budget. Some low-cost methods you can use to drive employee awareness and participation can be equally effective:

Involve employees in the planning and implementation process;

Enroll the company president to encourage participation;

Use e-mail, bulletin boards, and company newsletters.

Make the program fun by starting with a creative name;

Provide incentives; and

Keep it simple and easy by making activities easy to sign up for and participate in.

Implementation Plan. This section of the workplace health promotion operating plan will provide detailed information regarding when the various health promotion programs will be offered and will assign the individual responsibilities associated with the offerings.

Evaluation Plan. The final section of the workplace health promotion operating plan will address how you will measure the success of your program. Ideally, evaluation will include both measuring how well the program is working and whether or not it is achieving its expected results. Participation counts along with participant evaluations and surveys will help you to answer who is using the workplace health promotion program, what activities are most popular, whether the program met participants’ needs and whether participants were satisfied with the program content.

You will measure your results by reviewing each workplace health promotion program goal and determining whether that goal has been achieved. Using the example from above: Did the prevalence of smoking decrease by 10 percent by the end of the fiscal year? If not, why not? Was the goal realistic? Does the timeline need to be adjusted and objectives revised?

Implementing a workplace health promotion program requires careful planning. With good planning, your company can reap the benefits of workplace health promotion: healthier employees, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, a boost in morale, and reduced health care costs. All of these benefits will contribute to keeping the company’s bottom line fit and healthy.