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Simple Steps for Building an Employee Wellness Committee

Guest author Emmie Hiersche is a senior workforce health consultant with Kaiser Permanente.

You’ve heard the saying, “Teamwork makes the dream work,” right? It’s one of my favorites because it’s a key factor in achieving success and sustainability.

One of the most critical factors in maintaining a healthy school or workplace is employee well-being. Building a wellness committee can be a powerful way to reach more people, capture more feedback, and target your programming around the needs and wants of staff.

Wellness committees are essential to building a strong culture of health within your school, district, or workplace. This blog shares a little more about the benefits, as well as some key things to consider when getting started.

In my experience, wellness committees can lead to positive outcomes in a multitude of ways. Beyond promoting physical and mental well-being, they also bring skills, feedback, and idea sharing across multiple teams and departments. I always advise building a committee with a variety of team members with different perspectives, roles, and backgrounds. This helps create a diverse program.

Although being involved in a wellness committee is usually voluntary and unpaid, there are still ways to build value outside of the likely existing excitement for wellness. Wellness committee coordinators or leaders can get staff excited by offering stretch assignments, professional development opportunities, and increased connections. Sometimes wellness committees are also an opportunity for employees to receive visibility from leadership, which can also be a selling point.

Many people think that participating in a wellness committee is focused on idea sharing, but there’s so much more opportunity to engage. Establishing expectations at the beginning can help each person to understand how they can contribute their expertise, and what their responsibilities are. The strongest wellness committees maximize individual strengths across all team members.

Most wellness committees ask for one school year commitment, and then re-evaluate each role before the next school year begins. This timeframe is ideal to allow members the option to try different positions as well as allows for natural transition in and out of the committee. Newcomers bring fresh perspectives, and outgoing members can help build awareness and promote future engagement.

The most important thing to remember? Wellness committees are not created overnight. I always encourage leaders to take the time to build a solid foundation rather than speeding into it. Getting started can seem like the toughest part but can be broken down into 7 digestible steps. These steps, along with checklists, a sample agenda, best practices, and even a member pledge, can all be found on the Kaiser Permanente Wellness Committee Toolkit.

Whether you are building a wellness committee or have one that needs a little boost, I encourage you to explore these tips and tools. You won’t regret it.

Go team!

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