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7 Ways to Encourage Participation in your Employee Wellness Program

February 20, 2020 | By 2020 On-site

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Workplace wellness goes beyond simply offering your employees basic benefits like health insurance. In order to truly take a holistic approach to the well-being of workers, more companies are investing in workplace wellness programs to promote employee health and increase loyalty, productivity, and retention. Currently, 17 percent of U.S. companies with 50 or more employees offer comprehensive workplace health promotion programs. While this number is trending upward, companies who offer these programs use it as a differentiator to attract high-performing employees looking to work for an employer that cares about their overall health. 

One reason companies might shy away from launching a workplace wellness program is the uncertainty of participation. Low participation rates in these programs can equal lackluster ROI for businesses, which makes it harder to justify keeping these perks around. However, according to research from Virgin Pulse, 85 percent of companies say wellness programs support employee engagement, so it’s certainly worth going the extra mile to encourage employees to participate. But how do you go about doing this? Here are seven ways to motivate participation.

1. Appoint a wellness coordinator.

HR managers rarely go a day without a full plate, so you may have concerns about finding the time to implement a comprehensive employee wellness program. Set yourself up for success by appointing someone in your office as the official wellness coordinator. This champion of your program can focus on advertising the program, planning events, generating excitement, and boosting employee engagement company-wide. Your wellness coordinator could also recruit other employees to create a “wellness committee” to spearhead all activities.

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2. Provide programs employees want.

The most obvious way to get employees excited about their employee wellness program is to offer them perks and benefits they actually want and need. Have your wellness coordinator/committee conduct a survey or a poll to figure out exactly what your employees are going to respond to best. You might be surprised to learn that the crowd you were certain would love a group Weight Watchers program actually prefers lunchtime yoga in the park.

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3. Offer incentives.

In addition to reaching out for input on the nuts and bolts of the program itself, ask employees what kind of incentives they would respond to the most. Currently, 86 percent of employers offer financial incentives for participation in employee health programs. You can give financially-focused rewards for participation such as bonuses, extra paid time off, or reduced monthly premium costs. Or, you could opt for fitness and health-related incentives like free gym memberships or workout gear and swag. 62% of respondents in a recent study reported that they would be interested in using a wearable fitness tracker, so never underestimate the power of a FitBit or Apple Watch.

4. Keep it simple.

People want to burn calories in the gym, but they don’t want to have to burn a ton of brain calories just trying to understand how their program works and what they need to do to participate. Keep the process, sign-up, guidelines, and activities as simple and easy as possible. Use clear, concise language during the launch, and create a hub or portal that’s intuitive to use. 

Additionally, make your offerings easy to access by bringing them straight to your office door with onsite healthcare, such as 2020 On-site’s mobile eye care clinics. The fewer excuses employees can make to sit things out, the more likely they are to join. Onsite healthcare also drives convenience. New research from NRC Health shows that 51 percent of consumers believe that convenient access is the single-most important factor driving their health care decisions.

bus test-015. Spread the word. 

As much as you want to believe your employees read every word of every message you send them, most of them are probably skimmers at best when it comes to company-wide emails flooding their inbox. According to the rule of seven, customers need to see your advertising message an average of seven times before buying. Similarly, employees need to see the details and opportunities multiple times in various places before getting on board. Remind them of what your workplace wellness program has to offer by advertising it both on and off the computer screen. Tape flyers up outside the elevators reminding people to take the stairs and join a step challenge. Add messaging in the kitchen about upcoming lunch and learns. Get creative!

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6. Offer consistent activities.

Workplaces thrive on routine, and your employees need a way to 1) know when to show up to something and 2) remember to come back. Increase employee engagement by holding regular and consistent themed events like Meal Prep Monday or Fit Friday to generate interest, maintain momentum, and give them something to mark on their calendars each week. 

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7. Donate work time and resources.

Time and resources are valuable to both you and your employees. Donating that time and resources to the wellness program makes participating easier for them and emphasizes the value your company places on workplace wellness. Carve out business hours for activities, provide fresh food for meal prep practice, host a lunch and learn, bring in a yoga instructor, or even sponsor your employees’ participation in a fitness event like a 5k race.

If you’d like to read more content related to boosting employee wellness, check out our Content Library for the latest trends and tips. And if you’re interested in learning about how you can bring the eye doctor to work for your employees, contact us here!

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