Wellness initiatives have been taking the corporate world by storm in the last several years. In addition to promoting healthy habits through work-life balance, incentives for preventative doctor’s appointments, and making fitness classes available at work, a lot of organizations are implementing a benefit described as a Wellness Reimbursement Program. A wellness reimbursement program provides a pre-determined amount of funds for eligible employees to utilize towards a wellness initiative that is personal or beneficial to the employee. Thinking about implementing this at your organization? Follow these simple steps below to get started…
Implement a Corporate Wellness Reimbursement Program with these 4 Steps:
1. Create a Budget
Depending on the size of your organization, implementing a benefit like this can be costly, but the impact on employee morale will increase significantly. Employees in organizations with an emphasis on employee wellness tend to feel more valued by the company as an individual. While many companies find their employees choose not to utilize all of the funds available to them through the Wellness Reimbursement Program, you want to be prepared in either case. Determine what dollar amount you can afford for all employees, and what dollar amount will make the impact you are hoping to achieve through this program.
2. Determine Eligible Expenses
If you don’t determine what you organization will consider as eligible expenses, you are likely to receive requests for all types of “wellness” initiatives, and believe me – employees can get creative! I’ve seen employees request reimbursement for a gaming system so that they can play interactive fitness games. I won’t argue that this is a popular exercise method these days and I have worked in an organization that allows reimbursement for the Wii Fit bundle, and specific Wii Fit games, but not for the Wii gaming system itself. The beauty of this kind of policy – it’s entirely up to you what you would like to reimburse for! Gym memberships, stress massages, workout clothing, running shoes, workout equipment, fitness classes, and acupuncture are all items I’ve seen incorporated into successful wellness reimbursement programs. One important thing to remember is that if you are going to specify what is eligible under the program, it is wise to apply the rules consistently for all participating employees.
3. Document your Process
You likely know that HR professionals are big advocates of documentation, and wellness programs are no exception. Develop a formal program document in order to clearly define the monetary amount, eligible expenses, and reimbursement process for your employees. Things to consider when documenting a process are:
- Will employees have to submit for reimbursement or will the organization pre-pay?
- Will employees have to provide proof of payment and proof that the initiative benefits the employee directly?
- Will there be an official request form?
- How long will it take to process reimbursements once they are submitted?
- Who is eligible for the program?
4. Communicate the Good News
Implementing an initiative like this will likely have a high impact on your employees – so make sure to tell them about it! The last thing you want to do is creating a valuable benefit to employees that they don’t know about. You’ll want to have the documentation finalized and an effective date established before thing your staff about the new benefit.
Following these four simple steps will help you to create the right Wellness Reimbursement Program for you. Remember, this benefit can be shaped to fit your organization’s values, culture, and what your employees will appreciate most.