For many employers, the most challenging aspect of workplace wellness programs is getting enough employees to participate. Just because your company offers an excellent employee wellness program doesn’t always mean your employees will be jumping up and down in excitement to get involved.
One reason for this is many employees have questions about the benefits and purpose of corporate health initiatives – and rightfully so! You can’t expect employees to just start competing in challenges or changing their workplace habits without being educated first. An effective wellness program will explain its goals and answer any questions employees might have.
If your company isn’t seeing the participation rates desired, it might be because your employees aren’t fully educated on the benefits, initiatives, or purpose of your employee wellness program. Below are some common questions that employers should address with their employees to help educate, motivate, and inspire employees to get involved:
Q: How does an employee wellness program help a company?
A: Research continues to show that corporate wellness programs provide many benefits for all types of companies. Not only do wellness programs help promote happy employees and healthy company cultures, but they have also been linked with positive ROIs. This is because healthier employees lead to better bottom line results by:
- Boosting employee morale
- Increasing employee productivity
- Lowering healthcare costs
- Reducing sick days
- Decreasing workers’ compensation claim costs
- Creating a culture of wellness
- Attracting and retaining employees
Q: What does wellness have to do with my work performance?
A: Employers are interested in helping employees improve their wellbeing because healthy and happy employees simply perform better. A study published by Integrated Benefits Institute found that employees who work for companies with a strong commitment to a healthy workforce spend more time working, work more carefully, and concentrate better than employees at organizations that do not promote employee wellness.
Employee wellness programs typically cover holistic health aspects including stress, financial wellness, and mental health. All of these aspects contribute to an employee’s work performance. Employees cannot perform their best or even feel happy at work if they are overly stressed or dealing with mental health issues. Wellness programs aim to assist employees in all areas of health and boost their overall wellbeing.
Q: Why should I participate? What’s in it for me?
A: Many employees will be surprised to learn about all of the different perks of participating in their corporate wellness program. Depending on the company, most wellness programs offer different benefits, incentives, and fun activities for participating employees. Some common incentives and perks for participating employees include:
- Free flu shots
- Yearly preventative health screenings
- Health education and resources
- Employer HSA/FSA contributions
- Onsite fitness or wellness classes
- Motivation, inspiration, and assistance for leading a healthier lifestyle
- Extra PTO
- Healthcare discounts or lower premiums
- Fun fitness and wellness challenges
- Gym memberships
- Gift cards or cash rewards
- Fun team outings and activities
Q: How will this program help me become healthier?
A: Workplace wellness programs help employees become healthier by building a culture of wellness. Many employees practice unhealthy habits at the workplace because of an unhealthy office culture. From vending machines loaded with junk food to strict hours in the office, leading a healthy and active lifestyle is difficult and stressful for many employees.
With a wellness program in place – along with employers who are dedicated to creating a healthy workforce – employees will be encouraged to practice healthier habits throughout the workday. Healthy office potlucks, standing desks, walking clubs, and flexible hours will all help contribute to individual success and progress.
Besides answering employee questions about your workplace wellness program, employers should also be prepared to address any concerns employees have about their wellness program. Employers and wellness professionals should strive to:
- Welcome regular feedback. Make sure voices are heard and feedback is invited. Employees won’t want to participate in a program that they have no control over. If something about your wellness program is unpopular with employees, take in this feedback and make some changes. Ask employees what they want from their wellness program and build from there.
- Focus on employee health. Workplace wellness programs should never just be about improving the bottom line. They should be about employee wellbeing. If employees show concern that your wellness program isn’t personalized or genuine enough, be sure to address this issue. Many wellness companies offer great advice and resources on building a customized wellness program.
- Remember it’s not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. What works for some companies won’t necessarily work for your company. This is why listening to employees is so important. Find out what your employees want from their wellness program and determine what initiatives or approach will help them feel healthier and happier. Consider sending out an anonymous survey to collect opinions.
It’s natural for employees to have questions and concerns about their workplace wellness program. It’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure that employees are fully educated about the program’s purpose and its offerings. Be sure to address these common questions with your employees to help promote participation and success.
How can employers better help their employees understand workplace wellness programs? Comment below!
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