Allison Hutton

Wellness Programs: Getting Your Employees to Participate

As an employer, you may be interested in wellness programs, but unsure whether your employees will participate. While programs are designed to encourage the health and well-being of employees, not all programs see high participation rates. Creating a program that offers many activities and employee incentives will encourage employees to take part, and benefits will be seen throughout your organization.

In fact, Fortune cited a report from the Society for Human Resource Management showing that the popularity of these programs increased significantly in the past several years. Last year, approximately 78 percent of businesses offered wellness-related programs, compared to just 54 percent in 1996.

Workplace Wellness Programs

There are many benefits for both employers and employees when programs are available. Some more common benefits include:

  • A reduction in employees using sick days/call-offs;
  • Decreased costs in the areas of doctor visits, prescription medications and lost productivity;
  • An overall healthier workforce; and,
  • Encouragement and desire to live a healthier lifestyle.

Wellness Requirements

While you’re free to design a program that works for your company and employees, there are criteria that must be met, which are set by the Department of Labor. The organization noted that the following are the most current requirements for programs:

  • All programs created must intend to prevent disease or improve employee health.
  • If there’s an incentive involved in the program, all employees must be provided the opportunity to participate. If an employee has a medical or physical condition that would prevent them from participating, an alternative program must be offered.

Keep in mind that these criteria can change, so it’s important to check the website often to ensure your program is meeting the proper requirements.

Alternative Wellness Programs

While standard employee programs can include gym memberships, monetary incentives for smoking cessation and weight loss, employers are considering alternative methods of increasing employee participation. Up-and-coming offerings include:

  • Standing desks;
  • In-house fitness centers;
  • On-site health and wellness coaching; and,
  • Nap rooms or pods.

Speaking with your employees prior to implementing a program can assist in a higher participation rate, but also stay updated on the current regulations that govern wellness programs in the workplace. Workplace wellness is the key to bending the health care cost trend for your business.

Allison Hutton is an experienced writer, editor, communications professional, researcher and social media consultant. During her more than 15 years of communications and writing experience, Allison has worked with a variety of clients, from small business owners to Fortune 500 companies. She has an M.S. in entertainment business, a B.A. in communication and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and four children.