Lately, there has been some debate about whether workplace wellness programs are productive. Employers are becoming skeptical for the success of wellness programs. While some of the workplace wellness programs flourish others fail to achieve the goals.
A recent United Healthcare consumer study reveals that 63% of the employees are hesitant to invest time in improving health and wellness. Another survey by National Business Group on Health refers that 64% of employees are not interested in financial incentives associated with wellness programs and 41% feel that incentives are on the lower side or not lucrative. 62% of employees conveyed that they would love to participate in wellness programs if they were provided any kind of technical or wearable fitness device.
- Improving employee’s health
- Lowering employee’s healthcare costs
To be honest, workplace wellness programs are all about planning, execution, and more importantly employee participation. While employers spend time and resource on workplace wellness programs, they are unable to figure out the exact reason behind low employee participation.
- Lack of proper communication- Employees become skeptical of wellness offerings and outcomes if they are not properly communicated about the benefits of wellness programs. Unless senior leadership clearly articulates wellness programs to employees, you can’t expect to win their trust.
- Promoting irrelevant workplace wellness programs – Workplace programs come with different features like -weight loss programs, smoking sensations, pregnancy, obesity control, and diabetes management. When all these features are pushed into the complete set of a population without proper targeting and tailoring, it doesn’t appeal to employees. One needs to find our relevant audience for each of these individual features and tailor workplace programs accordingly.
- Running programs very often – When you run programs frequently without any break and comply employees to participate very often, it creates a fatigue among employees and they loose interest to participate.
- Not being creative enough – Corporate wellness program should be fun. It should be creative enough to make an employee leave the desk and participate. Something like – treasure hunt, community fruit basket would create a little bit of curiosity and fun among employees.
- Running same programs every year- Employees get bored when they participate in the same program, wellness challenges year by year. It becomes monotonous and leads to lower employee participation.
- Data related to employee health records are prone to cyber theft and when data is stored at such a high volume, there is a huge risk of data theft or loss. When one has a complete repository of personal health records, it’s very easy to decode personal information. This is a serious concern for employee privacy.
- The aggressive approaches taken by companies to make it mandatory for employees to participate in workplace wellness programs have attracted a lot of criticism.
What’s solution to this low employee participation situation?
- Provide paid times ( 30 minutes a day ) to employees so they can go to the gym or take a walk break.
- Replace low-calorie snacks like – chips, junk foods in Vending machine with grains, almonds, fresh fruits or even nuts. This would encourage employees to lead a healthy life.
- Create communities like – Walking community, Free Fruit Basket community, Yoga, and meditation community would encourage to collaborate and participate as per their interests.
- Encourage employees to participate in challenges – walking challenges, take 1000 steps, planks, gamified versions would increase employee participation.
- Inform employees well in advance about the programs by sending out monthly newsletters, rewards, financial incentives associated with current programs. Try to keep employees in the loop and it would create an environment of trust and cooperation among employees.
- Offer fitness trackers, and wearable devices to employees to keep check of their health and fitness.
Starting an employee wellness program is easy but it’s difficult to execute successfully. If designed well, some programs can definitely benefit employers in increasing productivity and reduce healthcare costs. To achieve very high employee participation and engagement at the workplace, employers should first understand what really works in favor and what doesn’t and improvise the strategic execution accordingly.
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