An Engaging Approach for Employee Wellness Programs

By CIOReview | Friday, August 3, 2018
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Employee wellness programs need a major revamp. The majority of the workforce considers the wellness programs offered by their employers as inadequate, with 54 percent of employees expressing dissatisfaction according to a Willis Towers Watson 2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey. Despite the increasing investment in wellness programs, there is a disconnect between the wellness initiatives that employers are offering and the benefits received by employees. Given the importance of such programs in maintaining insurance and absenteeism costs—along with its impact on attracting and retaining talent—is a problem that companies need to address immediately. There are certain measures that an employer can take to ensure their wellness programs deliver better return on investment.

Employers must inculcate a culture of wellness within the company, which also needs to be demonstrated foremost by managers. This healthy approach toward life and work involves being engaged in activities such as jogging, cycling, or eating healthy. Additionally, office environments should reflect this culture of wellness that includes ergonomic office layouts, bright and open spaces, and healthy options in the canteen. Employers need to promote internal communications that promote the benefits of wellness to the individual rather than the company and the message needs to be persuasive, and not demanding. A key part of the communication process is listening to feedback from employees, and that will make them feel more engaged, as a significant part of the whole wellness program. While traditional leaflets and posters are still effective for communication purposes, employers can encourage engagement via notifications, incentives and inspirational stories and videos (shared on social media or sent to the employees’ individual devices). Participation in wellness programs needs to be incentivized by providing financial benefits, which could be in the form of shopping or entertainment vouchers. This would also help the company build relationships with other businesses.

Despite the employees being discontent with current offerings, they still expect their employers to provide them with wellness programs. According to the same survey, 72 percent of employees considered that their health management a top priority and 64 percent believed that it is the duty of the employer to encourage employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. This will also improve the likeliness of attracting top talent and retain existing ones. A healthy workforce results in a happier working environment, which in turn leads to more productivity. With rising health insurance costs, employers need to ensure that every investment in wellness programs ensures a return. To do this, the most effective method is to understand the specific wellness concerns of employees and provide the best programs by engaging with them on a personal level.