Wellness participation

Employers want healthy, happy, and productive employees and many utilise wellness programmes as the answer. A comprehensive wellness programme that addresses all aspects of employee health and well-being is no longer a workplace perk but is rather a critical investment in the long-term success of the organisation. Through workplace wellness programmes, organisations can realise improved productivity, less absenteeism, fewer workplace accidents, reduced turnover, an improved reputation, and the resulting cost savings and business growth. However, although wellness programmes offer great benefits for employers and employees, getting employees to buy-in to wellness programmes and use them can be a challenge.

Employees who participate in wellness programmes perceive themselves as healthier and more productive at work, they have a more positive attitude toward their employer, and they are more likely to stay with their employer.[1] However, the key to an effective wellness program is employee adoption, and studies show that as few as 24% of employees may be using the program.[2] One study found that 60% of nonparticipants said that they would be open to participating in a wellness program but don’t for a variety of reasons. A lack of information or awareness, inconvenience, and an unsupportive company culture, were cited as barriers. Effective workplace wellness programmes are designed to address these barriers and be inclusive and approachable to all employees.

Raise Awareness:

While employers might believe that their workplace wellness programme is well-defined with clear rules and incentives, some employees may not understand who can participate, how it works, or why they should get involved. A one-time communication announcing the wellness programme will not engage employees for the long term. Employees need regular communication to keep them interested and to inform them about the opportunities to participate and the incentives and benefits of the programme. Some ideas to raise awareness include monthly wellness newsletters, regular wellness meetings, and “wellness champions” who will help you promote the programme throughout the company.

Create a Culture of Wellness:

Research shows that nonparticipants are interested in wellness programmes and specifically want to interact with coworkers who share similar interests and health risks.[3]  However, 53% of these employees feel that workplace cultural barriers, like lack of employer support, prevent or discourage them from fully engaging in the programme. Many employees feel that they cannot take time out of their workday to participate in the wellness activities that their employer promotes.  To overcome this barrier, advocacy for employee wellness needs to come from the top. The company needs to communicate that it’s acceptable and expected for employees to take a break during the day to use the gym, meditate, or go for a walk, and this starts with the CEO.  The organisation’s leadership needs to prioritise wellness and should create goals or targets to track the effectiveness and adoption of the wellness programme.

Personalise the Programme:

Both participants and nonparticipants agree that wellness programmes need to incorporate a personalised and customised approach.  This comes from listening to the wellness needs of employees and not taking a one-size-fits-all approach. With 70% of employee participants reporting that their organisation’s wellness offering demonstrates that the company cares about them, the wellness programme needs to cater to individual needs.  This personalised approach could come from things like one-on-one health assessments or by utilising outside experts that employees can access for their particular needs. Provide resources to your employees who can establish an authentic connection and offer personalised guidance.

Workplace wellness programmes are an important driver for employee health and well-being as well as the financial health of the organisation. To be effective, a wellness programme needs to be adopted by employees and engage them for the long term. A wellness programme is a powerful way for a company to improve the lives of employees and this starts by creating a framework that supports employee wellness goals while having the corporate culture to support the programme.

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1. https://hbr.org/2016/10/why-people-do-and-dont-participate-in-wellness-programs
2. http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/168995/why-workplace-wellness-program-isn-working.aspx
3. https://hbr.org/2016/10/why-people-do-and-dont-participate-in-wellness-programs