(Story by Dana Manciagli originally appeared in Denver Business Journal)
You’ve launched a wellness program for your employees. You’ve attracted a set of early adopters, but your overall participation rates have plateaued. Does this sound familiar?
Fear not, you’re not alone. According The State of Workplace Well-being survey, 52 percent of employer respondents agree that participation is the biggest challenge for wellness programs.
Let’s be real. This situation is disheartening and frustrating. After all, you built the program to help your employees improve their well-being. Low participation stems from many factors including lack of time, a lack of relevance, a lack of priority, or a lack of simplicity.
Here’s a few ways to pump up participation in your wellness program:
1. Don’t just focus on wellness
Programs that only focus on health and fitness improvements are missing the mark. Instead build a program that focuses on employee well-being, which includes much more than just health.
Make sure your program offers tools, resources, and activities that address areas of improvement that your employees really care about. This may include stress management, financial well-being, community building, or work collaboration. The best way to know what your employees want is to ask them. Use survey tools like TinyPulse to regularly ask your employees what they care about.
2. Give employees time
Make your program an integral part of the workday. Nothing’s worse than adding one more thing employees have to do. Instead, wellness programs should be something employees want to do as part of their day at work.
In a 2015 survey from Quantum Workplace, 49.8 percent of employees said they want time for healthy activities at work, but only 23.2 percent of employers offer it. This doesn’t mean you need to force people into the gym every day. Encourage walking meetings, stress-relief breaks, or the ability to adjust working schedules to accommodate an outside-of-work activity.
3. Use technology
Many wellness programs today are tech-based to make it easy for employees to participate in activities and track progress along the way. Tech-based programs easily integrate wearable trackers, connect to other human resources programs, use game technology to keep people coming back, and build community with social elements. New interactive technology from Limeade even features videos to help employees learn about well-being and integrated quizzes to help them retain more information.
4. Reward employees positively
Recognize and reward people for their participation — and do so in a positive way. People should be encouraged and celebrated for participating, not punished if they don’t participate.
According to The State of Workplace Well-being survey, 68 percent of the employers said they use incentives for participation and 65 percent see them as the most important factor to a successful wellness program. And contrary to popular belief, these rewards don’t need to break the bank. They can be as simple as social recognition, a PTO day to recharge, or even a simple award to hang in a cubicle.
5. Make well-being a priority
One of the best ways to demonstrate your commitment to your employees is through leadership support. Leadership involvement was cited as the most effective factor for a successful wellness program by 59 percent of employer respondents.
Encourage employees to make well-being a priority by setting a great example. This can be as simple as having leaders share wellness goals, sponsoring wellness activities, or hosting lunch ‘n learn events.
While there are many ways to boost employee participation in wellness programs, tackling some of these fundamentals will set your program and employees up for success.