One Size Does Not Fit All

So often we think that everyone is just like us and that we can create something that will meet everyone’s needs. In the case of a worksite wellness initiative, this can be a big mistake. When developing a plan for your worksite wellness initiative, consider the diverse types of jobs in your workplace. Let’s explore a few examples.

A hospital is a great example of a workplace with a wide variety of job types. When we think about a hospital as a workplace, we most often think about the clinical staff – doctors, nurses, and technicians. But a hospital can’t run without janitors, housekeeping, food service, and other lower wage jobs. Consideration should be given to how these types of jobs are different and the worksite wellness programs should be designed accordingly. Other considerations such as education level and primary language may also need to be considered.

Another great example of diverse job types is a municipality. Think about the employees of the municipality in which you live. Departments include: Police and Fire, Parks and Recreation, Town/City Hall, and Department of Public Works (DPW), to name a few. In these different departments, job types vary greatly. For example, the type of interventions you offer to Town/City hall employees who may be in sedentary jobs will be different from that offered to the Police and Fire department or DPW.

Do policies and programs need to be different for each of these groups? And, how do we plan for that with a small wellness team? Here are a few considerations to ponder in planning your initiative:

  • Collect data that will inform your planning effort on both the interests and needs of your workforce. A needs and interest survey or wellbeing assessment can be used to accomplish this.
  • With data in hand, look for those areas that are common interests across the workforce. In the survey we conduct, we find that most employees are interested in becoming more physically active.
  • Are there policies that you can change that will support the needs and interests of your workforce? Do these policies need to vary by department or can a policy work across job types and departments? For example, adopting or modifying a gym reimbursement policy to include physical activity other than just gym membership.
  • Don’t forget to ask for input from the various departments on creative ways they can adopt a standard program to meet the needs of their team.

One size does not fit all, and yet it is impossible to offer individuals programs for each department. Use these ideas to develop more customized solutions that can meet the needs of the diverse job types within your organization.