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Friday, June 3, 2016

3 Secrets of the Best Corporate Wellness Programs

By Henry Albrecht

You’ve implemented a corporate wellness programthat's awesome! You’re well on your way to healthier, more engaged employees. But as great as your new program is, it’s difficult to get employees to sign up or stick with it; but you can fix that.

Every new program faces challenges, but you can overcome them. Here are the secrets to tackling the most common barriers to wellness program success:

1. Driving participation

The State of Workplace Well-Being survey by my company, Limeade, found that 53 percent of organizations said that participation is the biggest challenge to the success of their wellness program.

If wellness programs are created for employees, why aren’t they getting involved?

The secret to success: One key to participation lies in rewarding employee participation. In fact, 68 percent of the employers surveyed in The State of the Workplace Well-Being survey said they use incentives for participation, and 65 percent see them as the most important factor to a successful wellness program.

The survey found that monetary incentives, gift cards, and company swag were the most popular offerings, but you need to offer the right incentives to get your employees on board.

And luckily these incentives don’t always need to cost money.

Rewarding employees for participation can be as simple as social recognition. Employees want to be acknowledged by their peers and supervisors. Recognizing participants in front of the team may be the incentive needed to bring others into the program. With the right incentives, employees will get involved and get excited about the program.

2. Sustaining momentum

Now that your employees are signed up, you have to keep them participating. Among employers surveyed in The State of Workplace Well-Being survey, 49 percent said sustaining active involvement in the program was a major challenge to corporate wellness success.

In other words, not all employees are in it for the long-haul.

The secret to success: Keep employees excited and interested in corporate wellness with gamification elements. Use apps and wearables that allow employees to easily track their progress. Then use a points and level system, a mix of relevant activities, and social elements to keep employees motivated to keep going.

For every challenge or initiative, make it possible for employees to earn points for their progress. Once they’ve earned points, advance the employee to the next level. At each level, offer new rewards and challenges. This way, employees are always working toward something new and interesting.

Make wellness a game, and watch employees stay involved and have fun in the process.

3. Making real changes

You have your employees’ attention and, most importantly, their interest. Now, it’s time to make an impact.

Employees often return to their old habits, even after participating in a single a wellness activity. For example, employees may power down their phones, disconnect, and de-stress during your challenge, but get back to being on their phones 24/7 once the months ends.

How do you get employees to adopt these changes long-term?

The secret to success: Long-term lifestyle changes require support. Employees need support from their co-workers, managers, and working environment to commit to well-being changes.

In fact, 59 percent of employers surveyed in The State of Workplace Well-Being survey said leadership involvement was one of the most effective factors for a successful wellness program. Leaders need to create a working environment and culture that supports wellness initiatives. You can’t expect people to make real change if they’re not supported.

Start by providing the right tools such as standing desks and kitchens stocked with healthy snacks. Allow employees time during the day for walking meetings, stress-relief breaks, educational events, and other initiatives. Better yet, participate in wellness activities and events right alongside employees. Doing so will show them the importance of the program and help them feel supported. And when employees feel supported, wellness programs have real impact.

Any new workplace initiative takes time and energy to get right. But with the right strategies, well-being programs can make a real impact on your employees and your business.

What challenges are your wellness program facing? Share in the comments below!

Henry Albrecht is the CEO of Limeade, the corporate wellness technology company that measurably improves employee health, well-being and performance. Connect with Henry and the Limeade team on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


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