Four ways to keep your employees engaged in your corporate wellness program

Emma White

All employers, and their employees for that matter, recognize the importance of healthy, happy, and productive employees. And many companies have instituted corporate wellness programs to help foster a culture of health, happiness and productivity. Yet despite significant investment in corporate wellness programs, companies tell us that sustained engagement remains a challenge. While everyone starts off excited by the promise of a wellness program, employees tend to lose steam after that initial kick-off.

But rather than panic that your investment was wasted on a program no one is using, there are some immediate interventions you can take now to boost engagement rates no matter your existing program design. Here are the four most effective ways to reengage employees in your wellness program:

Factor # 1: Teamwork = Dream work

Behavioral scientists say that communities play an important role in people keeping up with healthy behaviors. Since managing a healthy lifestyle can easily become a lonely pursuit, it's important that your wellness program shows the benefits that come from working alongside a team.

A study by Nokia shows that employees that participate in a step challenge against one or more coworker walk an extra 2,000 steps per day. The numbers don't lie. Teams are proven to:

  • Encourage individuals to step outside of their comfort zones
  • Create actionable accountability
  • Promote healthy risk-taking that one would normally not take alone

Nearly 80% of your employee satisfaction comes from the relationships they have with their colleagues, so leverage the power of your organization's social groups by having them create shared goals and promote team challenges.

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Factor #2: Prove the value

The most common question employees ask when a corporate wellness program is put in place is “What's in it for me?” Many think that these programs aren't really created for them, but rather for human resources and benefits teams exercising due diligence.

Employees that believe their employers care about their health and wellbeing are 38% more engaged than those who don't. Incorporate factors that show your employees how valuable their health and happiness is. Studies show that items that promote wellness, such as activity trackers and company apparel, will lead to increased participation and loyalty to your program.

Another effective way to show your employees how they are directly benefitting is by presenting data and trends you've collected throughout the program. Sending status updates on challenges, healthy initiatives around the office, and progress towards team goals creates a program relevant to each participant. The more contextual insight, the more your employees will directly see what's in it for them, ultimately increasing their engagement in the long run.

Factor #3: Reality check

Healthy habits are only maintained when they're replacing a bad one. Creating goals that aren't attainable will only make users feel intimidated and prompt them to leave the program. Stay realistic and make sure the team goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

  • Specific – Ask teams for as much detail as possible when creating goals.
  • Measurable – Data, data, data. Goals cannot be tracked or analyzed and teams cannot be rewarded if there are no numbers or metrics being gathered.
  • Attainable – The average daily steps of sedentary office workers is 2,000, so make sure teams don't set goals that are unlikely to be achieved regularly. Regularly walking 5,000 steps daily is better than promising and failing to walk 10,000 steps daily.
  • Relevant – Goals should make sense and be personalized depending on team health objectives. Goals that are too simple or too challenging won't be accomplished or pursued.
  • Time-bound – Encourage users and teams to set a timeframe or end date for their goals to hold everyone accountable.

Factor #4: Connectivity

Corporate wellness programs can no longer just exist of spreadsheets of daily steps or crumpled health risk assessment fliers in the break room. With everyone constantly plugged into their phones and tablets, technology presents an easy way to integrate your wellness program into your employee's life, no matter their age, demographic, or even individual goals. Mobile apps and smart devices are changing the way employers implement wellness programs, allowing users to build teams, notify employees of upcoming health assessments or ongoing challenges, share steps and accomplishments, and engage in healthy competition, all in real time.

The easy connectivity of apps and devices embraces the direction where digital corporate wellness is headed. It also empowers individuals through the use of familiar technology, inevitably creating a feeling of inclusiveness. Connectivity not only reinvents the way your employees engage with your corporate wellness program, but reinvents the way they control their own health.


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