How Can I Increase Participation in My Wellness Program?

The Importance of Participation

Participation is the first step employees take on their journey to adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Helping employees take that first step is one of the most important factors in the success of a wellness program, and it is also paves the way for all the organizational benefits of incorporating a wellness program, including:

  • Employee health behaviors
  • Lowered elevated health risks
  • Increased productivity, motivation and creativity
  • Decreased employee absenteeism
  • Improved ability to attract and retain top talent
  • Reduced medical costs

To clarify, these benefits are only experienced when employee participation in your wellness program is high. While improving employee participation takes work, it is well worth the time and effort you invest. American Journal of Health Promotion’s in-depth analysis found that programs with high participation saw an ROI of up to $5.81 for every dollar invested due to improved employee health and reduced medical claims.

Improving Participation

Now that you know the benefits of wellness programs with high participation rates, you might be wondering how exactly you can improve employee participation. We’ve got you covered! Listed below are our four best tips for improving and maintaining employee participation in your wellness program:

Leadership Support

Encouraging wellness program participation requires a workplace culture that is fully supportive of wellness. This means everyone in a leadership role must not only be onboard and supportive of well-being efforts, but they must also take part in these efforts. Leaders who commit to a healthy lifestyle inspire their employees to do the same. Leaders then become a first hand example of the benefits employees will experience when they push themselves to navigate through adaptive challenges and commit to healthy behavior change themselves.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

While more than 85% of large employers offer a wellness program, Gallup research shows that only 60% of U.S. employees are aware their company offers a one. Clearly communicating that your company has wellness program, going into detail about what offerings are included and explaining how employees will benefit from participation is the single, most important step! Employees need to know about the program, how they will benefit and how to get involved before you will see participation.

Offer Incentives

Offering prizes or perks for participating is a great way to jumpstart engagement and participation rates. You can use cost-based incentive like bonuses, gift cards, charitable donations, or discounts for fitness gear or gym memberships. Or offer rewards that are non-tangible such as offering paid time off or flexible work hours. If you are on the fence about whether incentives are the right choice for your organization, the 12th Annual Employer-Sponsored Health and Well-Being Survey found that employees are taking advantage of incentives now more than ever before. Keep in mind that your goal should be for employees to transition from enjoying these external incentives to developing intrinsic rewards over time, so a healthier lifestyle can be achieved.

Utilize Technology

Companies can encourage employee engagement by using relevant technology that makes the process simpler for employees. Fitness trackers and wearables are a great option because it allows employees to easily track activity, log information, set goals, receive reminders, participate in challenges, compete with team members, and more! As stated by CoreHealth Technologies Inc., technology allows for a more accessible, resourceful and personalized approach to wellness programs. Leveraging these benefits of technology is sure to help your organization improve its wellness program participation rates.

Using these strategies will not only help keep your employees motivated and participating in your wellness program, but it will help you build a healthy, successful workforce for years to come. For information on how Health Designs can help improve employee participation in your wellness programs through our unique offerings, click here!


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“Health Designs has exceeded our expectations, particularly in the personal coaching portion of our wellness program. Employees have met with the same coach since the first day and have formed an important, trusting relationship to help employees determine their goals and achieve results.”
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