Getting Ready

Form a Committee

Planning for a health awareness day should begin 6 months to one year before the event. The first step should be to form a planning and coordinating committee. There is too much work for 1 person. The core committee should consist of about six to eight members. This group will be responsible for planning and coordinating all of the activities described below. However, you will want to recruit additional volunteers as needed for other duties. The committee should be diverse, and its members should come from various areas and levels of the organization. You will want people who are skillful at organizing events and motivating people, and whom you can count on for the long haul - this task will be ongoing for the better part of a year. The first task for the committee is to choose a chairperson and possibly a co-chair. The primary role of the chair is to facilitate committee meetings and lead the planning process, while consulting with others and delegating as appropriate. A co-chair's responsibility is to assist the chairperson and fill in for them when necessary.

Decide on goals and objectives

Next, it is critical to have clear, written goals and objectives to guide the planning of your event and evaluation of its success. Ask yourselves what it is you are trying to accomplish with a health awareness day? Work with your senior leadership to get their input and support for a set of goals and objectives that complements the business strategy. The goals and objectives should also support the mission and purpose of your wellness program. Goals are broad and high-level, and point the way toward objectives, which are more specific. Both will help you select appropriate activities for the event. Some examples of goals are to:

  • Help employees and their family members choose healthier lifestyles.
  • Reduce the health risk factors of employees and family members.
  • Increase employees' and family members' use of preventive health services.
  • Reduce (or slow the growth of) health care costs to employees and the organization.
  • Reduce absenteeism.
  • Increase productivity.

From the above goals you might derive objectives such as:

  • Educate employees and their family members about the impact of diet on their health.
  • Educate employees and their family members about the benefits of exercise and the consequences of inactivity.
  • Educate employees and their family members about the long-term effects of smoking on their health and on those exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Screen employees and their family members for cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, BMI, etc.
  • Provide individual health coaching on results and recommendations from those screenings.
  • Advise employees and family members about the need to receive screenings for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer, plus how, where, and at what age they should do so.
  • Make employees and their family members aware of resources available to them (from Cigna, etc.) for tobacco cessation, weight loss, stress management, disease management, exercise, healthy pregnancies and babies, etc.

Determine your budget

It is important to determine the size of your available budget early in the planning process. One approach is to make a wish list of activities, exhibitors, materials, etc. that you would like to purchase if you had a large enough budget, plus fixed costs like facility fees and furniture rental, then cost it out and present the request to your leadership team. If they approve the full amount, great! If not, trim your plans accordingly. If you have a very healthy budget but not many staffing resources, you can hire a specialized health awareness day provider to plan and execute the entire event for you. Be sure to check potential providers' references from organizations that have used their services. You might even ask to visit a health awareness day they are coordinating. Be sure to get detailed agreements in writing as to what they will and will not do. If you have a moderate-sized budget you can hire vendors for certain specialized services (e.g., preventive health screenings) and do the rest using your organization's internal resources, coverage vendors, and free or low-cost community resources. If you have little or no budget you will have to rely heavily on the preceding free resources. However, you may be able to pay for some items out of different budget lines (e.g., printing of materials), and you may be able to get assistance with funding from different internal departments (e.g., Occupational Health, Safety, Security, Human Resources, Training). Following are some potential expenses that you will need to plan for:

  • Communication and promotion (e.g., flyers, posters, home mailings, paycheck stuffers, signs)
  • Decorations
  • Equipment rental (e.g., tables, tablecloths or skirts, chairs, etc.)
  • Lunches, snacks, and drinks for vendors and volunteers (and possibly participants)
  • Permits or fees for use of facilities
  • Vendor fees, where applicable (e.g., healthy cooking demo, preventive health screenings and follow-up coaching)