When it comes to workplace wellness programs, employers often tell us that they have a hard time generating and, even more so, maintaining interest in the initiatives they introduce. And it’s true that not every employee will have the same level of interest in participating. However, there are some surefire ways to help improve engagement in these types of programs, in order to get the results you’re looking for.
First, let’s consider the various factors that can affect the likelihood of your employees participating in your wellness program.
- Time – Let’s face it. People are busy! Show that you value their time by finding ways to work physical activity and healthy eating into their already hectic schedules. For example, trying having a walk-and-talk meeting instead of a sit-down.
- Access – Make sure your programs are easy for employees to participate in. Instead of offering discounts at a health club on the other side of town, consider adding some cardio equipment right there at your facility.
- Knowledge – This one goes without saying. If people aren’t aware of the benefits of the program or haven’t been educated about their need to form healthier habits and behaviors, then they certainly aren’t going to make any changes.
- Cost – One of the best ways to increase participation is by offering financial incentives like free or reduced-cost programs.
- Incentives – In addition to helping on the front end, rewards are a great way to recognize employees who participate in wellness programs or who meet certain health goals.
- Encouragement – There are key points in your program where employees generally need the most encouragement.
- First six weeks – This is the period when most employees drop out of wellness programs. Remind them that if they can get through these tough first few weeks, they can certainly commit to changing their lifestyles for good
- First six months – Even employees who make it past the first six week can still get bored with the program later on. Keep wellness at the forefront and offer encouragement to those who need it.
- First year – If employees can keep up healthy habits for a full year, then they have a very good chance of making those changes permanent.
A great way to help employees stick with a program can be through goal setting. Make it fun! You could have a goal to walk the equivalent of the length of your state or to achieve a certain number of hours of activity. Having something to work towards increases the chances that employees will keep working toward their goal.
Don’t underestimate the social aspects of getting healthy together. Consider having buddies, groups, or teams working together to achieve their goal. Encourage organization-wide participation, but make sure employees understand that it’s optional or that they’re free to work at their own pace.
Finally, consider offering incentives to help raise or maintain interest. Here are some great, often free, options:
- Awards – Even the smallest token can mean a lot to an employee who’s already proud of their health-related goal.
- Public recognition – Announcing employees’ achievements at company festivities or meetings is a great way to boost their confidence.
- Food – Offer healthy foods as a way to kick off, reiterate, or conclude a successful wellness campaign.
- Entertainment – Add some fun to campaign events to boost morale.
- Merchandise – Offer incentives like sports equipment or gift certificates to those who participate or meet certain milestones.
- Monetary rewards – Understandably, cash rewards have proven to garner the highest participation rates in wellness programs.
- Time off – To some employees, paid time off is almost as good as cash. If the number of absences at your company has decreased as a result of having healthier employees, this one might be a no-brainer.
Another great idea is to see if your insurance carrier covers any wellness components, like fitness classes or screenings. If so, make sure you promote those to your employees.
Most of all, let us use our experience to help you implement and carry out a wellness program that gets the results you want for your workforce. Contact us today!