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8 Strategies To Boost Employee Engagement In Wellness Programs

11 min read
Last Updated on 28 May, 2024

Finding a suitable wellness program that is beneficial for your employees can be a challenging task. It's something we can all agree on. But, once you find the right wellness program, the primary aspect that will make it successful is employee engagement.

Most companies find a suitable wellness program, but fail to get the employees to participate. According to Gartner's 2021 EVP Benchmarking Survey, 87% of employees work in companies that offer mental and emotional wellness benefits. However, only 23% of them can avail themselves of such wellness perks.

In most cases, employees don’t understand the urgency of participating in wellness programs. This is why sometimes a program might not fit their health objectives.

So, it is important to know how to get the maximum number of employees to participate actively in the wellness program. Only then will rolling out the program bear fruit in the long term.

Are you looking for ways to boost employee engagement in your wellness program? If so, then this blog will guide you through 8 effective strategies that will answer your query.

Quick Summary

  • Employee engagement in wellness program in a nutshell.

  • Reasons why wellness programs backfire usually.

  • Success tips to boost employee engagement in wellness programs.

What is Employee Engagement in Wellness programs?

employees participating in an engaging wellness program
Employee engagement in wellness programs refers to employees readily participating in challenges that the well-being programs offer.

A wellness program that offers the engagement factor allows employees to maintain a zeal and sense of ownership when it comes to participating in the program. Also, they will be able to understand the worth of taking part in wellness programs in the long run.

The Benefits: Why does engagement matter?

HR thinking why employee engagement matters
The first thought when integrating a corporate wellness program is the return on investment. Having engaged employees in the program will deliver benefits like:

  • Better productivity
  • Job satisfaction
  • Better overall well-being
  • Lower healthcare cost
  • Better employee morale

What are the reasons behind low engagement in wellness programs?

Wellness programs should be more than adding wellness challenges to engage your workforce. They should add actual value to an employee's lifestyle. Here are some of the commonly seen reasons why most wellness initiatives backfire:

1. The program doesn't cater to all your employee wellness needs.

Woman unable to achieve weightloss goal
Understanding your employee requirements is crucial to drive active participation. If the program doesn't align with your employees' wellness goals, they are less likely to engage in the initiatives.

2. The program lacks proper incentivization.

Incentivization has the power to motivate employees to participate in wellness activities. However, offering the right number of incentives is essential. Only then will the employees feel motivated to continue their wellness journey.

You can offer variations in the incentive, which is another key to driving employee engagement. It is human nature to get bored. If you offer the same incentive every time, the participants may lose interest in the program.

To improve employee engagement, offer a generous incentive from time to time.

Related: 7 Wellness Incentive Ideas To Boost Your Corporate Programs

3. Lack of proper communication channels.

You may think incentivizing the program is enough to drive employee engagement. But there's more to it. Maintain a clear communication channel to hold onto your employees' interest and engagement in the wellness program.

Encouraging employees to stick to the program is all about reminding them why nurturing their health is vital. Everyone needs a boost or a reminder to stay focused.

If you don’t communicate about the benefits of joining a corporate wellness program, employees won’t find any good reason to stick to the programs. And sooner than you realize, their interest in these programs will fade away.

How to increase employee engagement in wellness programs?

1. Understand your Employees First

HR talking to employee
The whole point of including a corporate wellness program is to improve employee health. So, to improve employee engagement in the wellness program, studying your employees’ wellness requirements is crucial.

You must be ready for the fact that every employee may have a different health requirement. Here are few factors, that you should consider -

  • How active are they?
  • How many employees follow any fitness routine?
  • How motivated are they to participate in wellness activities?
  • What are their health goals?

The wellness program should also include activities targeting employees with different fitness levels.

2. Identify Employee Interests and Needs Through Assessments

Employee fills self assessment form
For maximum engagement, including a wellness program that serves every employee's need is essential. Carrying out a thorough survey will solve all queries about your employees' lifestyles.

Surveys also allow employees to introspect into their lifestyle choices and share their needs with the management accordingly. Arrange one-on-one or group discussions where employees will be comfortable sharing their goals.

Here is a sample survey template:

  1. How would you describe your daily diet?
  • Mostly processed foods
  • A balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins
  • Vegetarian/Vegan
  • Low carb/Keto
  • Other (Please specify):
  1. How many hours of sleep do you get per night?
  • Less than 6 hours
  • 6-7 hours
  • 7-8 hours
  • More than 8 hours
  1. How would you rate your current level of physical activity?
  • Sedentary (Rarely engage in physical activity)
  • Light (Occasional walks, light exercises)
  • Moderate (Regular exercise 2-3 times a week)
  • Active (Regular exercise 4-5 times a week)
  • Very Active (Daily rigorous exercise or sports activities)
  1. What are your primary health goals? (Select up to 3)
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle gain
  • Improved flexibility/balance
  • Stress reduction
  • Better sleep quality
  • Disease prevention
  • Other (Please specify):
  1. How likely are you to participate in a company-sponsored wellness program?
  • Very likely
  • Somewhat likely
  • Neutral
  • Somewhat unlikely
  • Very unlikely
  1. What specific wellness program initiatives would you be interested in? (Select all that apply)
  • Nutritional counseling/meal planning
  • Fitness classes/workshops
  • Stress management workshops
  • Health screenings/check-ups
  • Team sports leagues/competitions
  • Incentive/reward programs for healthy behaviors
  • Other (Please specify):

3. Analyze Company's Unique Needs

employee fills assessment form
Every company has its own unique set of core values and culture, be it for business or employees. You must consider this factor when implementing a wellness program. Only then will the program get maximum employee engagement.

Also, consider questions on how employees spend their work hours. Do they have to sit all day working? Do they have to spend long hours standing at work? Or does their work require them to travel or walk around a lot?

4. Secure Leadership & Strategic Support

If you are someone in the management planning to bring in a wellness program, make sure the company leaders are on board with your strategies. The leadership's say and approval are crucial in laying a strong foundation for the wellness program's success.

Employees always look up to their seniors and leaders at work. So, company leaders should all be in to share a few words encouraging employees to take part in the wellness program.

5. Set Goals Aligned with Company’s Culture & Values

Every organization has its own set of values. For instance, Google's company culture and values are to inspire creativity, instill happiness, and create a fun workplace. Accordingly, Google has an employee wellness program that is built to fulfill its organizational and employee values.

Here are some examples of how you can bring in a wellness program based on your company culture and values.

  • Your company’s culture involves igniting creativity.

Hold a nutritious cooking showdown as part of the wellness program. Encourage employees to show off their culinary skills and creativity when it comes to food. It will help them play with their creative side and discover healthy meal recipes.

  • Your company’s culture involves team collaboration.

Include a monthly walkathon or weekly step challenge to infuse a collaborative spirit into your wellness program. With the help of incentives, you can increase participation in wellness programs.

6. Foster Inclusive and Engaging Participation

Fostering the element of inclusivity holds immense power in driving the participation rate in the program. To do so, here are four pointers that will help you in this case.

  • Keep your program visible and accessible

Keep employees hooked on the wellness program's initiatives. Create intriguing social media posts. Share crisp newsletters about the pros of joining a wellness program. Circulate informative posters on the office premises.

  • Make it easy to participate

Keep the difficulty level of the challenges easy to medium. It will encourage most employees to participate. Include activities that every employee will be able to do without hesitation. Otherwise, the participation rate will be low or drop in the long run.

  • Build an inclusive program for all

Ensure that employees belonging to all fitness levels can participate in the program's challenges. Cater to all your employees' needs. Some may require aid for their mental health while others may have more physical health-oriented goals.

  • Make it fun

Many employers may have the perception of keeping the program a bit formal. But, since we live in a fast-paced world, it can get tricky to grab the user's attention.

Making the process fun is the key element here to create some buzz. Keep the challenges so that it creates a healthy form of competition among the participants. Too much competition or keeping activities that don't resonate with the employees' health goals will decrease participation.

To make challenges fun, you can also include gamification and incentivization factors. These elements further boost engagement.

Think of the program's element from a user's perspective. Ask yourself if you would participate in a wellness program designed for your company's workforce.

7. Strategically Promote Across Channels

Social media platforms HRs can use to promote wellness programs
Promoting the wellness program is as important as other factors to improve employee engagement and participation.

  • Survey Employees & Customize Messaging

Be ready to send out survey questionnaires to employees after rolling out the wellness program. Learning their feedback is how you can understand whether the challenges or activities will bear fruit.

Also, sharing surveys periodically to learn if the program suits the employees or not shows the management's interest in improving employee wellness. Be prepared for any grievances related to the program.

You must be ready to customize your strategy and program according to the survey responses.

  • Communicate Across Multiple Platforms

Communication is the key to success, they say. And it’s true. Create and share creatives that will motivate employees to participate in the wellness program. Make use of all the company's social media channels for the same.

To create a buzz, you can use a wellness calendar to get unique ideas for running seasonal health campaigns on all social media platforms. Campaigns are an effective way to grab attention and raise awareness.

You can also create fun and quirky social posts to share wellness tips relevant to your workforce's lifestyle. Recognize employees who have outdone themselves in the wellness initiatives.

  • Encourage Participation of Family

Including employees’ families in the company’s wellness initiatives helps increase the participation rate. Such an act proves the organization’s commitment to employee well-being. It eventually contributes to bringing in the sense of job satisfaction.

Engage employees' families in wellness activities, such as family fun runs, outdoor picnics, or cooking classes.

8. Cultivate and Sustain Employee Engagement

Besides the above strategies, you can cultivate and sustain employee engagement in wellness programs with the following tips.

  • Create A Wellness Committee.

Build a committee where the chosen members can share their views, and exchange new information related to workplace wellness. The members can be representatives of every department in the organization. They can collect and discuss the feedback from their respective teams regarding the wellness program.

  • Appoint Wellness Champions.

Along with the committee, appointing wellness champions in every department can do wonders. Here's how. The wellness champions can advocate and motivate their fellow team members to participate actively in the program. These individuals should be someone who:

-themselves follow a healthy lifestyle
-can set examples related to fitness and lifestyle
-communicate with others, motivating them to take up an active lifestyle

  • Host weekly wellness challenges.

Hosting wellness challenges weekly is an effective way to increase and improve the number of wellness program participants. Enroll employees in frequent healthy challenges that will assist them in adopting healthier lifestyles.

Wellness challenges such as step challenge, water challenge, and mindfulness challenge are some that you can integrate with the program.

Related: 10 Engaging Weekly Fitness Challenge Ideas To Encourage Employee Wellness

  • Leverage Technology for Engagement.

The world is undergoing a great deal of technological advancement. Every industry, including the wellness industry, is embracing technology to get ahead in their game. Today's AI-driven technology is further aiding companies in improving employee engagement.

Vantage Fit is an AI tech-based product that can automate the tasks of running a wellness program. From running challenges to collecting program participants' data, Vantage Fit does it all.

  • Create a wellness channel.

Creating an online channel is another productive way to boost engagement among employees. The channel can be on any popular communication platform like Slack, Skype, or MS Teams.

This initiative is necessary to help build a community where employees can share their opinions, wellness woes, and journey. It should be a safe space for all the members. At the same time, the admin and the members can share posts and messages revolving around wellness.

  • Ensure managers are involved.

Employees always look up to their managers or bosses. So, ensure the managers actively participate in the wellness programs' initiatives. The team leaders and managers can also share motivating posts and take part in the program to lead by example.

To further create hype, hosting challenges where employees compete against their managers is a fun way to boost engagement.

  • Incentivize participation.

Incentivization is a practice known to instill new habits or behaviors in humans. Offer attractive monetary incentives, popular merchandise gift cards, or even discounts at brand outlets.

Along with incentivization, you can share appreciation posts on social media to boost employee morale further.

  • Measure the success of your program.

Measuring your program is the ultimate key to learning if all your hard work and planning is up to the mark or not.

Integrating a wellness platform such as Vantage Fit will simplify this task. The admin will receive auto-generated reports of the participants' progress and can track the progress live.

Additionally, Vantage Fit offers seamless integration with wellness devices to track and record participants’ steps, sleep data and more.

The recorded health data allows HRs and the participants to understand their lifestyle status. This helps HRs understand create a better wellness program. And employees get a reality check on their lifestyle choices.

Final Words

Getting employees engaged in a wellness program takes time. Once you are all set to implement the program, you may think it will deliver the expected results. The reality is quite different.

You must go through several hits and trials with different strategies, challenges, and incentives for the program. To save time, resources, and energy, collaborating with a wellness platform will be the smart way to go.

So, book a demo with Vantage Fit, your one-stop solution for your employees' wellness needs.

Connect with one of our experts right away here!

This article is written by Supriya Singh who is a content marketer at Vantage Circle. Writing is how she keeps her creative side ignited. An avid dog lover. Loves to cook and binge watch TV shows. To get in touch, reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

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