Know Your Wellness Strategy: The Traditional Wellness Model

This post is the third in the series outlining the second of Larry Chapman's 3 Wellness Models, the Traditional Wellness Model, and how to discuss it with the c-suite to get buy-in. [4 minute read]

The Traditional Model is a more tactical activity-orientated approach with a variety of wellness programs. It's typically the beginning of more strategic wellness efforts.Larry Chapman

The Traditional Wellness Model is a more tactical activity-oriented approach with a variety of mix-and-match wellness programs that gives employees flexibility and options on their journey to wellness and health. While this model is more tactical, it’s the beginning of more strategic wellness efforts.

The Traditional model is the second of three wellness models taught by Larry Chapman as part of a Wellness Certification program available via the Chapman Institute. The first of this blog series titled 3 Tips to Selling Corporate Wellness to C-Suite – Know Your Strategy provides an overview of all three wellness models.

Traditional Wellness Strategy Infographic

Wellness Model 2: Traditional Wellness Model

As your program evolves and your employees get more engaged with wellness and health as part of the Feel Good Wellness Model, your organization is likely ready to progress to the next level.  Sometimes this happens organically and other times it’s deliberate with the organization wanting to ramp things up and truly commit more time and resources to wellness initiatives.

60 – 70% of US companies have implemented the Traditional Wellness model

Traditional Wellness Model Characteristics

Focus on More and Varied Programs

  • This model is all about giving employees choice and options – a smorgasbord of program activities helping employees address specific behaviors such as weight management, smoking cessation, stress management and so on.
  • These options may or may not be related to specific personal or corporate wellness goals.
  • Employee’s spouses are typically not included but could if budget and time allows.
  • Programs are more ‘use at will’ without strong incentives (but limited incentives may be offered).
  • Programs typically offered in the Feel Good Wellness Model often continue in this model with more activities added so employees can choose what interests them most including:
    • Health and well-being assessments and/or lifestyle questionnaires (if these weren’t offered in the Feel Good Model, then they are frequently offered now).
    • Education via lunch and learns and health articles
    • Activity clubs such as walking, running or fitness activities
    • Onsite exercise programs
    • Short term incentive challenge programs
  • This model is good when you:
    • want to continue improving healthy behaviors and reduce health risks
    • feel you have ‘grown out’ of the Feel Good Model and want to step efforts up
    • have an increase in budget (but still modest)
    • want to start addressing productivity issues
    • want to use wellness to support occupational health and safety efforts
    • want to start measuring activity levels.
  • Depending on the quantity, variety and complexity of the wellness programs offered, wellness technology to assist with administration, tracking and measurement may also become a priority.


  • Budget approximately $100 – 300 per employee per year.

Return on Investment

  • Modest economic returns – could be 150% to 300% per year.

Your "Talk Track" to C-Suite

When explaining this model to c-suite focus on:

  • Quantity of activities and programs will increase with more variety and options.
  • It’s the next stage in wellness programming.
  • Starting to shape and evolve corporate culture.
  • Increase programs and try different programs out to prevent participants from getting bored.
  • Stronger commitment by leadership and administration to wellness is required.
  • Leadership visibly involved in programs and actively discusses and promotes in meetings.
  • Program measurement starts (e.g. activity tracking, health risk reduction, HRA results, biometric screening results, wearables).

What to Expect

  • 25-58% of employees will participate.
  • Use your intrinsically motivated ‘champions’ (which you identified in Feel Good Wellness Model) to engage others and keep the momentum building.
  • Requires more effort in terms of budget, time, promotion and overall effort. If you haven’t done so already, you want to identify an internal ‘owner’ of wellness (or work with a third-party wellness provider) and make sure they have additional hours to dedicate to the growing initiatives (e.g. wellness coordinator or staff resource dedicating half their time and responsibilities to wellness).
  • Proving ROI is starting to become important – focus on 2-4 key measurements.

How to Measure

Remember, it’s important to ask what the leadership team wants to see improve and then choose 2-4 areas to measure. If you didn’t measure results in the Feel Good Model, then you will want to begin doing so.  For example:

  • Survey employee satisfaction or activity levels before wellness initiatives start (as your benchmark) and then again at regular intervals.
  • Total Eligible Employees vs. Total Employees that Participate
  • % of active vs. inactive employees (self-evaluated)
  • # of steps/activity on average
  • Survey participants to ask if they will participate again
  • Measurement of changes in selected health risk factors (e.g. BMI, weight, etc.) via health assessments.
  • Evaluate changes in readiness to change status.
  • Changes in employee satisfaction score changes with the program.
  • Changes in attitudes about their employer.
  • Success stories – share with leadership and promote throughout your organization
  • Program participation comparison – (e.g. in first challenge, 35% of eligible employees participated. In second challenge, 42% of eligible employees participated. Therefore, you saw a 7% increase in participation from challenge 1 to 2).

When Administration Gets Too Much

In the traditional wellness model, there is typically an increase in quantity and variety of wellness and health programs. This is where program administration can start to get too much to manage on spreadsheets and Sharepoint. Using the right wellness technology (like CoreHealth's corporate wellness platform) will help you power wellness programs and make it easy to pull and present results with ease.

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About CoreHealth

CoreHealth Technologies Inc. is the leading corporate wellness platform trusted by more than 1000 organizations, ranging from medium-sized businesses to Fortune 500 enterprises. At CoreHealth, we believe that developing the best employee wellness programs is all about giving wellness companies the right code, design and access to the latest innovations. With the most customization, integrations and reliability of any software in its class, CoreHealth’s powerful platform lets users focus on growing great companies. For more information, explore the CoreHealth website