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Tips for Engaging Employees in a Workplace Wellness Program

by GMS Wellness GroupMarch 1, 2017 8:00 AM

Over the years while working in the field of Workplace Wellness we have seen many programs succeed… and fail.

Throughout these successes and failures, we have come to realize there are a few key components that make or break a Workplace Wellness Program.

Image of a woman engaged with her compnay’s workplace wellness program.

Communication – in All Directions

Employers need to express, in a clear cut way, that the wellness program is being put into place to benefit all sides. 

Showing true concern for employees and their personal health goes a long way. Expressing how claims and misuse of their healthcare coverage, along with unhealthy lifestyles, affect both the workplace and their personal life is beneficial in engaging employees in a wellness plan.

Use of Incentives & Healthy Challenge Activities

One of the most effective ways to engage employees to participate in a workplace wellness program is with the use of incentives. The long-term goal of using incentives is to get employees to initially engage in healthy challenges and encourage them to adopt new healthy habits. 

Money talks. This incentive seems to be single most effective method to engage employees. Examples are:

  • Cash in all forms
    • Discount off monthly premium for every health marker they hit
    • HSA credits for participating in a specified number of wellness activities each quarter
  • Cash prizes or gift cards for individual or team challenges
  • PTO for meeting certain health standard criteria
    • Lunch & Learns – Health topics
      • Attend so many per quarter
    • Walking Challenges
      • Walk and Record 10,000 steps for four out of seven days a week/month
    • Chug-a-Jug Water Challenge
      • Drink and Record eight 8-oz. servings of water four out of seven days a week/month
    • Healthy Lunch Challenge – Eat a healthy lunch three out of five days during the work week
      • Take a screenshot of your lunch and share with co-workers
      • Take a co-worker to a healthy lunch place
        • Divide into groups and each bring a healthy lunch for all on specified days.
    • Team Challenges
      • Divide co-workers into teams and enter into a fun, eight-week challenge
        • Have a point system 
        • Team exercise and nutrition demos
        • Weight loss percentage
        • Attendance points awarded
      • Offer prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes

Accessibility to the Workplace Wellness Program

This is a very important component. The use of a data-driven web-based programs is the No. 1 wellness solution being implemented at this time. While these are a great asset to any program, they do not make people well! A recent Gallup poll shows that web-based wellness programs only have a 27% usage rate among employees after the initial 90 days. 

What recent studies have shown is that the amount of accessibility an employee has to one-on-one coaching with a designated wellness coach, consistent meetings and demonstrations with an onsite educator, and the ability to earn incentives has increased employee engagement.

A few ways to increase accessibility are listed below:

  • Offer Lunch & Learns during work hours (20-30 minutes)
  • Allow for employees to schedule a one-on-one session with the wellness coordinator a few times a year during the workday ( 10 minute sessions)
  • Have all educational materials easily accessible, with an online folder and an onsite wellness folder that includes contacts for the wellness coordinator and point person at the workplace

This is the very foundation of every wellness plans at Group Management Services. We believe that assigning a specific wellness coordinator to each client is the best way possible to reach as many employees as we can. By combining the consistent presence of a wellness professional along with our web-based portal, we can build trust among the employees while still providing verifiable data.  

Please feel free to contact a Wellness Team Member at GMS with any of your wellness questions!

Julie James A.T.C., Richfield – jjames@groupmgmt.com 

Siobhan Hein, Richfield – shein@groupmgmt.com 

Corrinne Ward RD, LD, Columbus/Cincinnati – cward@groupmgmt.com 

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