Wellness programs over the years have elicited both thumbs up and eye rolls, depending on who you’re talking to. Wellness programs run the gamut from discounts on gym memberships and weight loss pamphlets to cooking classes and group exercise. Some offer flu shots, others nutrition lectures, even weekly onsite farmer’s markets.

And here’s why: according to two different studies, employee wellness programs are said to increase employee engagement and improve company stock performance. According to Humana/The Economist Intelligence Unit study, 91% of employees have improved their fitness level, and 89% have improved their overall well-being and happiness. Download the study here.

Moreover, a study by the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), published in the January issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, suggests a correlation between wellness programs and stock performance. Companies that scored high for workplace health promotion also scored high on Wall Street — the stock values had appreciated 235%, versus 159% for the S&P 500 from 2009-2014.

Yet anyone whose company has offered a wellness program in the benefits package knows it’s less about having the program and more about getting employees to participate. Often, benefits administrators do a good job of presenting the programs to employees at enrollment time, but lack the necessary follow-through to get employees engaged and active.

As a marketing wonk myself, I see some areas in which employers can motivate employees to get the most of their wellness benefits. They include:

  • Frequent communication. Go beyond the tips sheet (“How to lower your cholesterol” articles). Instead set up onsite seminars, lunchtime workshops, hands-on lunch-packing tips, and reminders of community fitness events (fun runs, charity walks, community health fairs).
  • Onsite wellness events. What better way to engage employees in wellness activities than to make it easier to attend? Create company-sponsored health fairs during work hours
  • Create accountability and partnerships. Tap in to your employee’s competitive nature by setting up monthly challenge goals and encouraging them to select accountability partners for added motivation.
  • Introduce financial fitness. One of the most overlooked areas that cause employees stress is their financial well-being. Luckily, companies are beginning to recognize how financial stress impacts worker performance. Add a financial well-being program to your company’s overall offerings.
  • Maintain a culture of wellness. Benches and picnic tables in a landscaped area of the property, an onsite fitness center, healthy lunchroom menus, and vending machines that stock organic options can go a long way toward helping employees improve their health and mental well-being.

How does your company handle wellness programs?

Where do you see wellness programs fitting into your ongoing employee benefits program?


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