Wellness programs are no longer an exception. In fact, they’re seen as a viable means of boosting employee morale and cutting down on absenteeism and turnover by many companies. The stats back this up: A National Business Group on Health survey found that businesses of all sizes increased their wellness-based spending by 17 percent from 2014 to 2015. Despite the increased spending, however, the survey showed that less than half — 47 percent — of workers took full advantage of their company’s wellness program to help meet their health goals.
It’s crucial that you provide sufficient support and the appropriate tools to help this happen — and that goes beyond simply starting up a wellness program. How can you nudge your workers in the right direction so they make the most of what’s available?
Build Buy-In and Commitment
The success of your wellness program depends on the level of commitment from both employees and management. Simply distributing health/wellness info and the potential benefits is a good start, but you really want notable people in your organization to set an example, and that starts with your management team. If higher-ups are showing enthusiasm in making changes to adopt a healthier lifestyle, that feeling is much more likely to permeate the rest of the company.
Focus on Nutrition
A healthy lifestyle starts with a healthy diet. Invite nutrition and dietary experts to hold lunchtime talks. If you don’t want to spend money on bringing somebody in for a talk, leverage your most committed employees to do so instead; if you have a marathoner in your workforce, ask her to speak about her dietary routines as an example of the positive changes people can make.
You have to practice what you preach in this regard, as well; it’s useless to have someone give a talk about healthy eating and then bring in a box of doughnuts the next morning. The meals and snacks you make available around your workplace should skew toward the healthier end of the spectrum, or you risk making a mockery of your wellness initiatives.
Market Your Program
Work closely with your marketing team to make wellness a core part of your company values, and use a variety of channels to reach employees with all different levels of technological know-how. You want your wellness-geared activities to be a prevalent topic among your whole workforce, so the story behind your wellness program, specific initiatives going on for the current month, and some recent success stories from your staff should all be part of this mass communication.
Why not create a Facebook group for your employees to use as a sharing platform? Your employees can post exercise routines, healthy recipes, success stories and progress made on the Facebook wall. Convert some of the best examples to physical bulletin-board material.
Use Tech for Added Competition
Many people work harder at something if they can track their progress and compare it to their peers. Because most people use their smartphones on a daily basis, health apps are a great way to get everyone involved in wellness activities. By using any of a wide variety of fitness- or nutrition-based apps — anything from Endomondo to Digifit to Noom Coach — you can create any number of individual or team competitions that might push people toward hitting their health goals.
Bottom line: Your wellness program must be sustainable for it to succeed. If you truly want to help your employees hit their health goals, you have to engage them through the wellness program — and your work isn’t done once the program’s up and running. Continual communication, example setting, and variety will all go a long way toward keeping your whole company engaged.
Emmie Sahlan has a graduate degree in English and has been writing professionally for the past five years. Her niche areas are insurance, credit cards, personal finance and education.