Workplace Wellness – Don’t Forget to Include Dependents

Sarah Szul  Health Solutions Coordinator

Sarah Szul
Health Solutions Coordinator

Workplace Wellness – Don’t Forget to Include Dependents

As research has demonstrated, the workplace is an excellent place to promote health and wellness.  However, we need to remember that employees themselves are only a fraction of the equation. It’s important not to forget the dependents (spouses, partners, and children) whose health also impacts the company’s bottom line.

More and more companies are actively trying to include family members in wellness programs. Large corporations such as JPMorgan Chase, IBM, and Dell actually provide incentives for family members to participate in wellness. And doing so makes good business sense.

Every workplace has employees who are finding it increasingly difficult to make healthy choices at home. The social support of loved ones can go a long way towards helping an employee stay motivated and engaged in workplace wellness initiatives.

Healthier dependents also mean healthier and happier employees. Studies show that employees who partner with others in a healthy lifestyle will more likely continue their healthy behavior longer. Since employees won’t have their coworkers to motivate them after working hours, family participating in the same workout or nutrition plan will give these employees the continued motivation they need.  Even more, employees with healthier family members will use less sick time to take care of a sick dependent.

Conduct a family health risk assessment and interest survey – Include questions for the entire family. Through these types of assessments and surveys, many companies, like IBM, have been able to successfully implement childhood nutrition programs.

  • Set family goals – A great way to encourage family participation is to set achievable, yet challenging family goals.
  • Communicate often and directly to dependents – Encourage dependents to share their email addresses. Be sure to let them know that their email address will only be used to notify them of wellness program events and activities.
  • Offer multiple program options – Offer multiple program venues (i.e. stress management classes offered both online or in a classroom setting) to appeal to a greater range of dependents and their schedules.

Offer incentives directed to dependents and their schedules – Incentives are great tools for encouraging behavior. Offer your dependents incentives that are appropriate to the goal they’re meant to encourage, and directed