5 Tips to Make Your  Employee Wellness Program a Big Hit

5 Tips to Make Your Employee Wellness Program a Big Hit

Aug 12 2015

You’ve decided to join the growing number of companies that offer an employee wellness program - congratulations.

Medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on a wellness program.

You want to make sure the program benefits the well-being of your employees, and also improves your bottom line. You know promoting better health is a great investment in your company’s most valuable asset – the people – and that it will help with recruitment and retention. But now you’re probably asking yourself, “What’s next, how do I get this program rolling?”

Here’s five helpful tips to get started and ensure your employee wellness program is a success.

1. Get your leadership involved. Studies have shown the most successful wellness programs are those who are supported, and participated in, by top management. Engaging leadership sends the message company-wide that health is a top priority. Start by sharing these employee wellness facts:

  • Medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on a wellness program.
  • Companies that implement wellness programs have 28 percent reduction in employee sick leave and 26 percent reduction in medical costs.
  • 80 percent of Americans work in jobs that require little or no physical activity (especially impactful if this applies to your workplace).

Couple this with the fact that sitting is increasingly earning a bad reputation for its negative health effects and your leadership will quickly see the value. The next step is to get them involved – give them a clear role you want them to play, making it easy for them to demonstrate their support.

2. Involve employees in the program planning. This is important for two reasons.

  • By asking your employees what they want and what they are willing to participate in, you’ll be able to offer programs that best meet their needs.  
  • By being part of the planning process, your employees will feel a greater sense of buy-in and be more likely to participate in wellness activities you plan.

3. Make it fun. Don’t we all have enough drudgery in our days? Wellness activities provide an opportunity to bring some fun to the work environment. So create a theme, turn wellness into a game and provide opportunities for employees to be social and you’ll see participation is much higher as a result. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

For sunnier months:Priority Health - Business - Employee Wellness Program - Health Challenges

  • Participate as a company in a community race. Better yet, tie in a training competition. If it’s a 5K walk, for example, have people log the miles they walk leading up to the race and award the top three contenders.
  • Offer outdoor lunchtime yoga on site.
  • Give out pedometers and offer a prize to those who walk at least 12,000 steps per day, every day, for a month straight.

For the chiller months:

  • Conduct a ‘hold it for the holidays’ weight challenge, encouraging people to maintain their current weight during a challenging time.
  • Host a stair climbing competition, encouraging employees to take the stairs and track the amount they climb over a given period.
  • Have employees share healthy holiday recipes and create a Healthy Holiday Cookbook to distribute among the company.

Still looking for more? Here’s 121 employee wellness ideas to get you started from Snack Nation.

4. Use incentives wisely. A great deal of research has been done on incentivizing employees as part of wellness programming and some of it might surprise you. A larger reward does not always lead to a better outcome. You will also want to consider the timing of the reward. The sweet spot comes when you combine an extrinsic motivator (like money) with intrinsic motivators (like a sense of accomplishment). You can promote intrinsic motivation with continual reminders about the personal benefits of healthy choices and quick callouts for employees who are going above and beyond to achieve their wellness goals.  

5. Track progress and share with employees. It’s important to track overall results so that you can make informed decisions about future programming. But why not share the successes more broadly? Consider pulling snippets of the data out to share with employees, such as “the company collectively walked 200,000 steps- let’s make it 300,000 next month.”

Your wellness program is a proactive approach to health care and allows your employees not only to be happier and more productive, but can also avoid costs when it comes to preventable conditions such as heart attacks and diabetes, as well as some forms of cancer. These tips can help you get started or just tweak and optimize an existing program. Good luck!