We know workplace wellness programs are beneficial, but how do you encourage engagement and buy-in?
Lack of participation is one of the biggest obstacles companies face when implementing workplace wellness initiatives.
From leading by example to offering incentives, here are 5 ways to encourage participation in your workplace wellness program.
There’s a plethora of research out there that has found that wellness programs in the workplace are beneficial to employees and companies alike. However, one of the main obstacles many companies face when implementing wellness programs is lack of participation; in order for these programs to deliver value and have an impact, people must participate and engage in them.
Companies are increasingly offering wellness programs in order to attract and retain talent, reduce healthcare costs, drive employee engagement and productivity, and reduce absenteeism. But, how can organizations build a culture of wellness? How can they encourage and motivate staff to get involved in different programs?
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According to WELCOA, the greatest barriers for non-participation in workplace wellness programs are:
- Insufficient incentives
- Inconvenient location
- Time restrictions
- Lack of interest
- Lack of communication (marketing awareness)
- Personal health benefits
- Unsupportive company culture
- Trust and privacy concerns.
5 Strategies to Increase Workplace Wellness Participation
1. Go to the source
In order to get people to participate in your wellness programs, you need to generate buzz around them. One way to generate buzz is to go directly to staff and survey them on their needs, wants, and interests. People will participate in these programs when they are interesting or relevant to them; ask them for program recommendations or how a program can be more fun or attractive for them.
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2. Foster a culture of wellness
Lead by example and have your C-suite executives and managers actively participate in these programs. Another key strategy to foster a culture of wellness is to offer staff time and flexibility in order to engage with these programs. Consider offering a longer lunch-break, or flexible clock-in and clock-out hours. Encourage walking breaks and meetings, create a workplace wellness policy, and offer incentives for when people participate in programs.
Some valued incentives, according to WELCOA, include:
- Gifts or prizes
- Fitness center discounts
- Reduced premiums
- Contributions to medical benefits
- Access to health professionals for personalized and customized assistance
- Offset time to participate in programs while on the clock
- Onsite access to healthy food choices
- Social activities and ways to learn new skills
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Another way to foster a culture of wellness is to make it easy and fun for people to participate. Think about daily, weekly, and monthly challenges like who can walk the mosts steps, bring the most delicious healthy snack, or if staff are interested in losing weight consider doing a weight-loss challenge.
If you already have some wellness programs in place but you find that participation is low, make it a priority to spread awareness. Share information about the program regularly like the purpose and goal of your programs, how it works, why it’s beneficial, how long it lasts, etc.
When communicating, remember to be creative and think of it as a marketing strategy. Use digital channels, create eye-catching posters, and send email or text reminders. When someone reaches a milestone, give them a shout out. The idea here is to make sure that staff are kept in the loop and motivated.
4. Partner with external organizations
Sometimes partnering with other organizations can help broaden your wellness programs’ reach and impact. This is particularly helpful if you find that your staff are interested in 24/7 programs, joining gyms, or having access to mental health services.
Remember that as an organization, your goal is to increase participation in order to truly experience the vast benefits wellness programs offer. Find local experts or businesses that are specialized in wellness and invite them to your workplace. For example, invite a nutritionist to give regular workshops or classes on how to eat healthier, invite a yoga teacher to provide on-site yoga classes, etc.
Some of these outside partners can also help you offer better incentives. For instance, if someone reaches a milestone, sponsor a one-month personal trainer or a one-month nutritionist.
5. Provide variety
Not all of your staff have the same interests and they likely don’t have the same wellness goals. One way to boost participation in wellness programs is to offer a variety of programs that align well with your staffs’ personal goals and interests. This requires that you have a holistic approach to wellness; don’t just focus on physical or mental health, instead offer programs that can help with financial wellness, and anxiety and stress management.