Wellness programs are a valuable employee benefit. Yet, increasing the number of employees who participate in the program can be challenging. Most wellness programs place the burden on employees to make lifestyle changes, and most employees resent and resist this.
Results of a research study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) show that of employees who don’t participate in wellness programs:

  • 70 percent said they can make lifestyle changes on their own
  • 56 percent do not have enough time to participate
  • 53 percent said they were already healthy
  • 43 percent didn’t think the program was conveniently located
  • 43 percent didn’t know enough about the program to make a decision
  • 33 percent were concerned that their employer would access their personal health information

Of those who do participate:

  • 77 percent said they wanted to improve their health
  • 75 percent wanted to maintain their health
  • 71 percent wanted to learn more about health risks
  • 70 percent said the program was convenient to work
  • 58 percent participate to receive incentive prizes or money
  • 50 percent participate for reduced health care premiums

To improve participation rates, your wellness program communications should address employee concerns and promote wellness. Provide easy access to recipes for healthy meals and snacks. Send employees information on ways to include exercise in their daily routine. Discourage people from coming to work sick.

By moving beyond metrics and challenges, you may create a wellness program that truly succeeds.