How to Increase Employee Participation in Wellness Programs

June 20, 2023

Table of Contents

Additional Resources

Establishing and maintaining healthy habits in a large workplace can be challenging. Increasing employee participation in wellness programs can be even more difficult. 52% of U.S. companies offer a wellness program, yet participation rates are less than ideal. The est-run programs only average around 75% participation. Most programs average less than 50%. But why is that?

Despite HR’s best efforts, employees may not understand the tools at their fingertips. It can be hard to carve out the space for employees to tune in to wellness programs. How do we get them to pay attention? 

Better yet, how do we increase employee participation in wellness programs?

Program participation can decrease healthcare premiums, lower absenteeism, and improve employee productivity. We’ve got 7 ways to increase employee participation in your corporate wellness programs – read on.

7 Ways To Increase Employee Participation In Wellness Programs

Having an employee wellness program on paper isn’t enough. In the corporate space, health is money. If your employees aren’t taking advantage of everything your program has to offer, it’s money down the drain. Not sure where to start? We’re here to help.

  1. Designate a wellness coordinator or create a wellness committee.

The HR department at enterprise-level businesses has a dozen plates spinning at any given time. Rolling out or maintaining a wellness program may be a challenging task. By appointing a wellness coordinator as the point of contact, you’re setting yourself (and your employees) up for success.

In a similar vein, a wellness committee can get the message out and act as the common thread between employees, the program, and HR. A familiar face in the crowd can increase participation as they lead by example and make the program more approachable. 

  1. Offer incentives to participate.

One of the ways to boost participation is through incentives. Who wouldn’t love to win the latest Bluetooth speaker or a gift card to their favorite store? Organizing company-wide challenges, like a step challenge, can be a fun way to garner interest in your program. The winner can take home an exciting prize (and bragging rights) until the next challenge begins.

  1. Spread the word.

You’ve got a great program, but does anyone know about it? Here’s a prime example: Gartner’s 2020 Well-Being Benchmarking Survey found that almost all organizations (96%) offered mental well-being programs, while Gartner’s 2020 Well-Being Employee Survey revealed that less than half of employees (42%) thought their organizations offered them. 

Mid- and enterprise-level businesses have a lot going on. An employee’s inbox is the funeral ground for “less” important emails. HR needs to get crafty if they want to get the message out about a great new wellness initiative. Sharp marketing campaigns and strong calls to action are impactful.

It can be as simple as managers speaking with their direct reports about the benefits. This is a great way to leverage their proximity to employees. Buy-in (and participation) from leadership can also help spread the word and increase participation. “Beat the boss” day step challenge can be a fun way to get people involved. 

  1. Donate work time and resources.

Employees physically and mentally check out of the office at the end of the day.  They aren’t going to spend their own time looking for an email about a wellness program – make it easy!

Block off time during business hours for wellness-related activities. It can be as simple as a lunch and learn or a class on meal prep. Host a fun activity outside their lunch break, like a hike or yoga class.

Carving out time during the business day improves the well-being of your workforce and can improve employee morale.

  1. Help employees understand what they need.

Employees might think that wellness programs are designed for “someone else”, when in fact, these programs are for everyone. Employees can benefit from assistance in understanding their needs. This can be challenging, but it’s an important part of offering a program that suits the workforce. 

Encourage them to take stock of their current wellness habits and goals. They may not realize that their aspirations can be met with the help of a workplace wellness program. Once they understand their goals, they are more likely to use the wellness program to its fullest. 

  1. Provide programs people actually want.

Do you know what your employees are looking for in a corporate wellness program? If not, now may be a good time to start asking questions. Start by running a survey that addresses simple questions such as:

  • Do you want to participate in a company-sponsored wellness program? Why or why not?
  • What are your current wellness goals?
  • What topics are you interested in learning more about? 
  • What would motivate you to participate in a company-sponsored wellness program?

This may not sound like rocket science, but the most effective way to get people involved is to offer a program they actually want. 

  1. Provide 1:1 support.

A company-sponsored wellness program should always offer the type of support that meets the needs of the participants. That typically means 1:1 support from physicians, coaches, mental health professionals, or fitness experts, to name a few. 

While static resources are beneficial, they often don’t hit the mark alone. Offering a direct line to the experts will pay dividends. 

Fresh Tri App for Employee Wellness Programs

If your current health program isn’t meeting your employees’ unique and changing needs, it may be time to reassess your offerings. An employee wellness program has significant benefits and can reduce the risk of poor health behaviors, chronic conditions, and major medical events within your business. 

Fresh Tri uses mindset training and habit-building to create the most powerful combination that fits today’s busy, modern lives and distracted brains. Build resilience and reduce burnout with a research-backed app that offers resources for weight loss, stress management, mental health, diabetes prevention, heart disease prevention, and healthy eating habits. Healthy habits are our business. Are you ready to Tri? Request a demo.

Let’s start together

Get Healthy, Stay Healthy—Feel Better.

Continue Reading