You don't have to do it alone. Your healthcare provider and other health-related organizations can help you develop a program that works with the needs of your office environment, the size of your workforce, your budget, and your goals. Here are recommended steps for developing a successful, cost saving program.

STEP No. 1 –Start by designating a team to research, develop, and implement the new program. If the company has a large workforce, consider outsourcing the development or hiring someone to run the program.

STEP No. 2 –Determine the company's goals in implementing a program. Is it to improve morale, reduce absenteeism, cut costs in health care expenses, or all of the above? Be sure all aspects of the program chosen will support the company's goals.

STEP No. 3 –Have the team survey your staff or put together a needs analysis based on demographic research to see what areas may be of particular concern.

STEP No. 4 –Research. Start with your healthcare provider, many of whom offer low-cost or free programs and tools. Also look at health organizations such as the Mayo Clinic or your local hospital. Or enlist the help of a comparison service such as National Corporate Wellness or Wellness Proposals to compare options and costs.

STEP No. 5 –Ask your healthcare provider about discounts, reimbursements, and rate negotiations. This would include asking about reductions for health insurance costs, gym memberships, equipment, and specialized programs.

STEP No. 6 –Choose a program that provides information and support for all areas of wellness and for all types of people. Programs too narrowly focused can be exclusionary and even dangerous. An entire office focused on weight loss may cause an individual who struggles with an eating disorder to relapse. Or a program centered on team sports may exclude an asthmatic from participating.

STEP No. 7 –Be sure there is a data collection system in place. The program should provide confidential and comprehensive statistics measuring changes in a variety of health markers and participation levels to compare against worker and claim cost data.

STEP No. 8 –Start small. Institute a pilot program that covers only one or two aspects of the proposed program, such as wellness newsletters or providing healthier options in the vending machines and break room. Add other aspects one at a time. People generally respond better to gradual changes, and it also gives your wellness team time to assess the program for long term success.