How to Boost Participation in Your Workplace Wellness Program

Even the best wellness program is worthless if no one is participating. So how do you boost participation in your workplace wellness program?

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how to boost participation in your workplace wellness program

A workplace wellness program is a great benefit to staff members and a powerful recruitment tool for businesses to attract top talent. Making employee wellness a priority not only benefits workers, but it also helps businesses reduce healthcare costs, boost engagement, and reduce and absenteeism. But even the best program is worthless if no one is participating. How can businesses build buzz and get employees enrolled? Here are some ways to get staff members out of their comfort zone (and comfy chair) and on the road to health.

Walk the workplace wellness program talk

Modeling the behavior you want to inspire is the first step. Create a culture of wellness that focuses on healthy choices and encourages staff to join in. When management participates, it opens the door for staff. Your executive team should be visibly participating in every wellness activity on site. To generate buzz, consider creating a wellness team that surveys employees on their needs/wants and recommends programs or events to boost participation – upper management can be involved here as well, but make sure they are a team member, not a team leader.

When management participates, it opens the door for staff.

Look for help to broaden your workplace wellness program

Outside assistance can help reinforce your commitment to employee health and wellbeing. Your health care plan may offer services like 24/7 access to nurses for questions. These can be highly beneficial to employees (and their families) to answer questions and offer advice. If your provider doesn’t offer this or other wellness benefits, talk to your insurance broker. The competition for small to medium size business accounts is fierce: you may have more leverage than you think in increasing offerings for your staff.

Gyms and fitness centers generally provide discounts to business for their employee’s memberships, but try asking for more. Can a trainer that can come in and offer tips for getting fit? Is there a local yoga clinic that would be interested in providing a free demonstration or even a monthly class that might increase their rolls? What about meal planners? There may be a host of small businesses in your area that cater to healthy lifestyles willing to speak to your staff – a boost for both small businesses!

Wellness program success may begin with small steps

In a recent survey, 89% of employees felt their company supported their wellness goals, but reported the obstacles they encounter at work. For 30% of respondents, food at office celebrations was a problem; 22% say snacks brought in by coworkers made staying on the wellness track a challenge and 10% of employees cited each of these: free meals, office candy and vending machine selections as problematic.

While you may not be able to replace birthday cake with kale, consider downsizing parties. Rather than a cake every week, a monthly party that acknowledges all March babies can lessen temptation. Granola bars or flavored rice cakes could be added to the candy offerings, and your vending machine company may be able to suggest some alternatives as well.

Make your workplace wellness program fun

Encourage participation in wellness activities by making them easy and fun. Office Olympics are a fun way to get staffers up and about and reinforce wellness, but make wellness a priority routinely. Offer employees free fitness trackers, or encourage them to use the ones likely already on their smartphones to create small challenges. How many steps can we do today? Are employees interested in weight loss challenges? Who’s brought in the healthiest lunch today (and eaten it)? Offer small financial prizes or even silly awards to the winners.

Drop Everything And…

A DEA challenge is a fun way to encourage employees to Drop Everything (don’t hang up on clients though) And… stretch, walk, run, take a moment to breathe or decompress. An alarm sounds and for 5 minutes employees stop what they’re doing and take time to do whatever they want that promotes their own mental or physical health. Business can do this daily, weekly or monthly – just as a reminder that employee health is just as important as productivity.

Small incentives can boost workplace wellness program participation

Do your employees run in marathons? Consider offering to pay half the registration fee (which is typically nominal) and then brag about what a great job they did after the race is over – on your website, social media, and in-house. Wellness isn’t just physical, encouraging employees to volunteer helps their mental fitness as well. Consider paid time off to volunteer for an afternoon, or a day, to boost overall wellness.

Messaging is major for wellness programs

Reinforcing wellness offerings is as important as offering them in the first place. They’re not doing you or staff any good if no one uses them. Posters in the break room soon become background: emails, texts, and encouragement from managers should be part of your wellness programming routine.

Business and employees benefit from workplace wellness programs, but only if staff participates. An active culture that models wellness, promotes wellness activities and messages commitment will help boost participation – that’s great for everyone.

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