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How to Create a Wellness Program Your Workers Will Love

(Story by Henry Albrecht originally appeared in Corporate Wellness Magazine)

Developing a corporate wellness program that meets the needs of your workers is easier said than done. So how do you do it? By tailoring your strategy and connecting it with your culture.

Here are a few steps to create a wellness program that actually fits:

Connect it to company values

Workplace wellness programs are more than a nice-to-have perk for employees. They should actively reinforce company goals and values. Start with your corporate mission. How does it drive behaviors and beliefs in the office? And how does it motivate employees?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re not alone — 57 percent of those surveyed by Achievers in 2015 said their company’s mission doesn’t motivate them.

Make it your own: Look at workplace wellness through the lens of your core values. If teamwork is on the list, your wellness program should revolve around team activities that encourage people to work together. If your company values service, your efforts should inspire participation in volunteer work, local charity walks and other community-related events. Overall, your program should strengthen your company’s culture and support its mission.

Meet employee needs

You implement standard workplace wellness initiatives that address exercise and nutrition, but no one’s participating. Why? Because well-being goes beyond physical health, and your employees want programs that meet all their needs.

2015 survey of employees published by Quantum Workplace and my company, Limeade, found that employees want benefits that address diverse factors of well-being — like social, financial and workplace health.

In the survey, 76.7 percent of employees said they want time off to recharge, 73.7 percent want healthy vending options and 74.3 percent want flexible hours to help with work-life balance. Yet, few employers accommodate these needs.

Make it your own: Wellness programs are for employees, so give them what they want. Take a quick survey to get a pulse on which well-being goals are most important to them. Then, listen to the feedback and develop a program that your employees love. Your program may not look like you expect it to — and that’s a good thing.

Keep it simple

Employees won’t participate if your program takes too much time and effort to understand — the simpler it is, the better. After all, a 2014 Aon Hewitt survey found that 40 percent of millennials said they’re more likely to participate in health and wellness programs if they’re easy and convenient.

Make it your own: Choose platforms that are simple and integrate with the HR technology your employees already use. That way, there’s no scrambling for links and login info — it’s all in one place. Encourage employees to participate with fun game-like elements, such as points, levels, rewards and social media.

Find the right rewards

The last step of workplace wellness success is to keep employees interested in the program. And it’s all about incentives. But which rewards do your employees want? What motivates them?

Make it your own: Take a look at your employees. How are they motivated to do their best work? How do you reward top performers? Translate these into wellness incentives, and make sure they’re aligned with your company culture and values.

For example, if you reward success with monetary bonuses, consider similar rewards, like gift cards, when employees achieve well-being milestones. If awards and recognition are more your speed, consider giving out certificates or company swag. And make it easier on yourself by selecting a partner or vendor to help with reward fulfillment.

Remember: You need to tailor your wellness program so it authentically reflects your organization’s culture. When it does, your employees and business will feel the difference.