What’s a wellness manager’s role?

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A wellness manager implements and monitors programs to improve employee health, such as smoking cessation and fitness activities. Education requirements vary, but a relevant degree and communication skills are important. Incentive programs increase participation, and the manager may also assist with individual needs.

A wellness manager is responsible for implementing and monitoring programs designed to help employees achieve their optimal health. The position became popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and many medium to large companies keep at least one wellness program manager on staff. Healthy employees are generally more productive, take fewer sick days, and cost companies less to insure. Common types of programs implemented by a wellness manager include smoking cessation classes, fitness activities, and stress management assistance.

Education requirements for a wellness manager position vary by employer. Some employers will accept experience in the medical or business field and completion of a training course in lieu of a degree. Others prefer their wellness managers to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as health and wellness. A secondary degree in business can also come in handy and give candidates an edge over the competition.

One of the main duties of a wellness manager is to identify the need for healthier workplace behaviors. For example, if several workers are smokers, the manager can implement a smoking cessation program. Providing a way for employees to stay in good shape is also important. Managers can help employees pay to join gyms or build an on-site fitness room for use during breaks or after work. Identifying workplace wellness needs requires good communication skills, attention to detail and regular mingling with workers.

To increase the programs’ chances of success, the wellness manager typically implements some type of incentive program to go along with it. Workers who meet specific targets may receive cash bonuses, extra vacation days or other types of rewards. Studies indicate that when wellness programs are encouraged, more employees are likely to participate. It is important for wellness managers to come up with incentives that are attractive to employees and cost-effective to the company, which may require some creative thinking.

In addition to general health improvement programs for all workers, a wellness manager may need to assist workers with specific individual needs from time to time. For example, if a worker is injured on the job and develops a dependency on pain relievers, it may be the responsibility of the wellness manager to get the worker into a treatment program and help maintain sobriety. The manager can also help workers find financial assistance or counseling for family or legal issues.

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