If you have a wellness program in place for your employees, good for you! But the set up is merely the beginning. The success and efficacy of a wellness program are directly correlated to your employees’ level of engagement in it. So how do you establish and grow employee engagement for your wellness program?
1. To gain employee engagement, you must first have senior management buy-in.
If the owners, presidents, CEOs and executives are not leading by example, engaged and representing, how can you expect employees to do so? Often, it’s the younger generations who are driving wellness programs. Allow their motivation to resonate throughout the company by supporting their efforts and encouraging their ideas. Top-down support can nurture and grow bottom-up initiatives. Senior management should not just sign off on activities, but also take part in them! Employee engagement is driven by employee morale. By setting an example and engaging themselves in the company’s wellness program, the leaders can foster a sense of company culture and bring their employees together to achieve their wellness goals.
2. Get to know your workforce.
Engagement and interest are important. Even if you think you know your culture, send out a poll or host a town hall. It can be valuable to receive employee feedback, suggestions and ideas. It’s also good to take a look at the demographics. Are your employees mostly men or women? Are they baby boomers or millennials? Do they work remotely or on-site? Build initiatives into your program that make sense across the board, not just focusing on one population. Sometimes this can best be done by involving employees directly in the planning and creating a committee to lead the efforts. Other times it makes more sense to hold one-on-one sessions to answer questions and reinforce the value of the wellness program, instead of a mass survey. Either option is okay! It’s all about doing what makes sense for your company.
3. Emphasize teamwork.
Promote social wellness by encouraging your employees to work together! Maybe it’s holding healthy competitions between departments. You can have weight-loss challenges or see who can reach the most steps in a month. If it’s not a competition, maybe it’s hosting team activities, Office Olympics competitions or outdoor games when the weather is nice. This can boost morale and get your employees more social with one another while simultaneously getting them on board with your wellness program.
4. The more variety, the greater the reach.
Focus on all things health and wellbeing. It’s not just about food and exercise. Only having the normal heart, cholesterol and high blood pressure conversations are outdated and not inclusive. Employees are human beings! They have other wellness related issues such as stress, mental health, substance abuse, financial difficulties or caretaking for a loved one. Your wellness program should encompass physical, emotional, social and financial health. In addition to fitness or diet-related initiatives, consider inviting a financial advisor to teach about retirement savings or hosting a mindfulness workshop to focus on preventing burnout. There are specialists, resources and activities that appeal to all aspects of wellness. If an employee does not have concerns related to heart disease, cholesterol, or diabetes, are they likely to partake in strictly physical wellness challenges? Probably not. A variety of topics will help engage more employees overall.
5. Offer incentives.
You already know that incentives are important. But what’s imperative is making sure they are based on what matters to your culture. What resonates with your employees? Monetary rewards like contribution differentials, gift cards, cash payments or discounts to gyms or restaurants? Experience rewards like additional PTO/vacation days? What about physical rewards like plaques, t-shirts, mugs or water bottles? Maybe a charitable reward means more to your team, such as pledging X dollars to a nonprofit organization for every step taken or mile walked/run/swam/biked in a particular time frame? For some employees (or budgets), all it takes is some recognition. Make it a point to acknowledge your employees’ efforts to participate in challenges or attend workshops through a company-wide monthly email, a poster in the break room or an announcement at your staff meeting.
6. Keep it simple.
Ultimately, what makes wellness programs most successful is when they don’t feel like a bunch of extra work. When sending information out, use a conversational tone. Check your HR or corporate jargon at the door and keep it digestible for everyday conversation. Keep the details (related to activities, deadlines, reimbursements, rewards, etc.) very clear to eliminate the fear of complicated procedures. Consider incorporating wellness initiatives into the everyday. Allow for walk breaks instead of smoke breaks. Offer fruit, granola and yogurt instead of a box of donuts at a breakfast meeting. Working wellness subtly into the day-to-day prevents a major culture shock and resistance.
Whether you have a wellness program and need help gaining traction with your workforce, or you’re feeling overwhelmed with building a program from the ground-up, McConkey is here to help. To get started and improve your company’s wellness, contact:
Consultant – Benefits