Wellness Programs Need to Reach More Employees

The Illinois Workplace Wellness Study collected data from a wellness program available to 12,000 employees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Results showed that workers who participated in the wellness program tended to be healthier from the start than nonparticipants. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) explains that most wellness programs reward participation and success by offering lower health-plan premiums and other financial incentives. Since unhealthier employees are not taking part in the wellness program, they will be facing not only poor health but also higher premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs than their peers.

To truly improve the health and well-being of your organization and to effectively reduce health care costs, it is necessary to expand your wellness program to reach at-risk employees.

Reaching At-Risk Employees

When trying to reach at-risk employees, it is first important to understand why they aren’t participating in your wellness program. This SHRM article quotes Lizzie Alberga, founder of Collective Gain, a wellness coaching firm based in Los Angeles: “A one-size-fits-all approach to wellness only accommodates those who are most confident and are already living a wellness-centered life. Not everyone wants to do yoga in front of their co-workers or publicly participate in a weight-loss challenge.” Every organization and its employees are different, so follow these steps to figure out why at-risk employees aren’t participating and how to create a more accommodating wellness program based on their needs!

  1. Start by communicating with your at-risk employees. You can conduct a focus group or hand out a survey to get a better idea of what is holding these employees back and what would motivate them to participate.
  2. Work on building trust with this group of employees. Communicating with them about what they need or want in a wellness program has already planted the seed of trust. From here, you need to follow through with their suggestions to prove you care about their individual well-being.
  3. All employee answers will be different, but wellness experts agree answers will fall in at least one of these three main themes: 1.) Wanting a more customizable wellness or benefits plan, 2.) Wanting more privacy, or 3.) Needing more emotional support. SHRM suggests offering options where employees can participate in health challenges in private or go off site for screenings. You can also hire a wellness coach that can help identify and work through any emotional issues that might be preventing an employee from adopting a healthier lifestyle. Fore more information on creating a more customizable wellness program, checkout our previous article!
  4. One of the most important steps for ensuring more participation is to have full leadership support. Research shows that wellness programs are more successful when leaders are noticeably involved in the wellness program and when they acknowledge health and wellness accomplishments.

For more information on creating a wellness program that reaches more employees and gets results, visit our website!

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