How to Have a Successful Wellness Program

Julie Shenkman
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Workplace wellness programs have become a growing trend among many companies that want to maintain and motivate their workforces with minimal impact to their bottom line. This growth also comes with an increasing number of company staffers who not enjoy these perks, but also expect employers to provide them. Consider the following benefits of wellness programs, as well as strategies to ensure optimal employee participation.


The benefits of a workplace wellness program extend far beyond the physical realm. "Wellness is not just about physical health," says Ann Wyatt, regional vice president of account management at HealthFitness. A well-rounded wellness program strives to address mental, emotional, financial and social wellness, as each of these can affect employee performance and attitude. Employees who enroll in workplace wellness programs are not only more motivated to work harder, they also have better attendance and are more inclined to stay employed longer with a company.


To encourage employee participation, appoint wellness leaders within the organization. Company executives and those in leadership positions actively involved in the wellness program help set the example for other employees to follow suit. If at all possible, dedicating a full-time position to manage the wellness program is even more effective, because it demonstrates the company is committed to the cause. A dedicated wellness program coordinator has more time to put effective programs, classes, discussions and focus groups in place, and can be a valuable point of contact for wellness program participants.


Communication is essential to maintaining a robust wellness program. Employees need to know why they should care that such a program is put into place. Email is a great way to reach all employees at once but is likely to be quickly forgotten or ignored. Therefore, other methods should be employed as well. Place fliers around the water coolers and break room and signs in the parking lot or on car windshields, and have in-person meetings and assemblies to discuss new wellness initiatives.


More than a third of employees fail to enroll in a workplace wellness program. To encourage greater participation, some companies offer incentives to their workforce. A survey conducted by Harris Interactive in 2012 asked over 1,100 workers about employer incentives to participate in wellness programs. These incentives included gift certificates, discounts, extra time off, reduced health insurance premiums and employer contributions to health savings accounts. As of August 2015, up to one-fifth of employers offer these perks to employee wellness program participants.

Consider all the benefits of a wellness program, and use these techniques to communicate those benefits to your employees. "Don't make your program the best kept secret out there," advises Wyatt. For your wellness program to truly make a difference, employee engagement is essential.

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