We are very excited to be launching posts about Wellness today!

The goal of this new initiative is to:

  • Provide value to our VIPs and readers, and to
  • Pass along key and actionable findings from the most recent journal articles

Why are Wellness programs so important?

We all know that workplace wellness programs should be a part of any company’s strategy for a healthy workplace; OK, I know I’m ‘preaching to the choir‘ here, but stay with me! Wellness programs can be large corporate initiatives costing tens of thousands of dollars, or small and simple amongst a hand-full of employees like a grassroots strategy. Whatever wellness direction your company chooses, one of the key suggestions that we always offer to our clients is that you must measure your wellness program. As the saying goes, ‘you cannot manage what you do not measure’, and this tends to be the shortfall in a lot of employee wellness programs. This blog post gives you a number of different ways to measure wellness. 

employee wellness infographic

The best possible outcomes for a wellness program include staff engagement, retention, lowering organizational costs (such as those brought on by absenteeism) and maximizing productivity. An emerging trend in employee wellness is using the participatory approach, and today’s blogpost will focus on this. Personally, I was first introduced to the participatory methodology about 8 years ago and I was immediately impressed on its cost-effectiveness and employee engagement potential. In a previous life I facilitated Participatory Ergonomics programs in province-wide strategies as a means to manage work-related injuries. The by-product of these sessions was always a high-level of employee engagement and excitement.

Its no secret that it takes effort to implement and maintain a Wellness program. This is exactly why the participatory approach sounded so intriguing to me; guidance and support is provided by  management (from all levels) combined with grassroots initiatives. I have seen the success of using a participatory approach in ergonomics so why would wellness programs be any different?


A group of researchers (Snetselaar et al) used the following strategies to build Wellness engagement in staff: 

  • Monthly meetings with different topics (Monthly topics listed below)
    • Interactive participatory half-hour session that used the key principles of self-determination theory.
    • Each session focused on 1 of 4 key areas: nutrition, physical activity, stress management, or ergonomics. All of these are explained in the next section!
    • Instead of normal ‘lunch and learns’, monthly meetings focused on a participatory approach where the group was encouraged to share relevant life experiences, resources, and ideas for change. Quite a contrast to the stereotypical lunch and learn, where there is only a one-way sharing of information.
    • A healthy lunch was always provided – many of the study participants just came for the healthy lunch!
  • The researchers used surveys to measure the program’s success:
    • Surveys do not need to be complex to give you useful information. They are incredibly useful at comparing and contrasting any changes associated with your wellness program. Not only do surveys allow you to easily track progress (and share those results with everyone involved!), they easily allow you to show the benefit of your program to upper level management. This can be incredibly useful when looking to implement something new or to get some funding/support for a new wellness initiative.
    • Examples of wellness surveys included in this study (and can be easily put into place in your organization) are:
      • 36-item Short Form Health Survey, version 2 (SF-36 v2)
      • Job Content Questionnaire
      • The Nordic Musculoskeletal questionnaire
      • The Work Limitations Questionnaire
    • Absenteeism data was also gathered. This is one of the more stereotypical kind of measurements that Wellness programs have used in the past to show their worth to upper level management. 

Monthly Topics

The researchers used a multi-pronged approach that focussed on 4 areas: Nutrition, Physical Activity, Stress Management, and Ergonomics. I have included all of the topics from each section below to give you some quick and actionable ideas that can be added to your Wellness program immediately!

  1. Nutrition
    1. Mindful eating
    2. Snack attack
    3. Mediterranean eating style
    4. Vegetables: variety and easy preparation ideas health circle
  2. Physical Activity
    1. The power of moving
    2. Personal choice and physical activity
    3. Strength training
    4. Building motivation for physical activity
  3. Stress Management
    1. Demand/control model for workplace stress
    2. Strengthening type b behaviours for stress management
    3. Reducing stress though social support
    4. Stress/food craving connection
  4. Ergonomics
    1. Recommended computer monitor placement
    2. 1-min work stretches
    3. Keyboard/mouse positioning
    4. Ask the ergonomics expert – guest speaker

Note: We at ErgonomicsHelp provide ergonomics coaching and lunch & learn sessions to anyone, anywhere! With the power of technology, bring us to your session for a live presentation in Office Ergonomics initiatives!

Key Learnings

The biggest take-away from this study is the effectiveness of using the participatory approach to Wellness. Involving the employees as much as possible throughout the process can give you a lot of successes in employee engagement and will likely result in even BIGGER wins in your employee Wellness program.  

Stay in Touch!

In the very near future we will have a free e-book available to download! Using all of my best tips, the book provides straightforward information to show you how to quickly and easily adjust your workstation and make it ergonomically sound.  Subscribe below so we can let you know when the free e-book is available!


Snetselaar, L., Ahrens, L., Johnston, K., Smith, K., Hollinger, D. & Hockenberry, J. (2016). A Participatory Integrated Health Promotion and Protection Worksite Intervention: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial. Topics in Clinical Nutrition. 31(1): 36-46.