According to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation, worker injuries and illnesses cost employers $225.8 billion each year. In addition to this, the cost of chronic illnesses that are not properly managed cost the US healthcare system a trillion dollars annually. Bottom line: not having an established employee wellness program, that also has high participation, is an expensive problem.
Thus, it is important that you not only have an employee wellness program in name. In fact, if you have an employee wellness program nobody is participating in, that should be your cue to scrap it and redesign it to encourage more people to join in. Healthy employees will have less absenteeism. This leads to increased productivity which is a good thing for any company. Healthy employees also mean that your company is spending less on healthcare costs. So how can your company design employee wellness programs that actually make your company money? Let’s find out.
How To Design A Wellness Program That Works For Your Company
Involve your employees
You’re ready to come up with a wellness program for your company but you don’t know where to start? Well first of all, you need to ask the people for whom you’re designing this program in the first place. What do they want to see? What are they excited about when it comes to staying healthy? If most of your employees are millennials, they might have completely different ideas on what wellness activities they would like to participate in than say, Baby Boomers. Thus, the first step to designing a wellness program that works for your company is to ask your employees for their input. Incorporating their ideas on wellness activities is more likely to provoke participation.
Give them the tools
You’re not with your employees 24/7. However, you can give them tools they can access on a 24/7 basis so they can do things like fill out health risk assessment questions, get personalized wellness plans and track their progress. There is nothing more powerful than empowering your employees to take their own healthcare destiny in their hands.
Market your wellness program strategically
Education alone is not going to make people get involved your wellness program. In fact, according to Pareto’s Principle, it is likely that at any given time, only 20% of your total workforce is involved in some kind of wellness activity. So what does education do? It sensitizes people to the reality of taking care of their health. It gives people something to contemplate on and this eventually might be the push they need to start getting healthy. But this type of education has to be strategic and designed in a way that “markets” the wellness program to employees. Think about a catchy ad you saw and how you remembered it when you were in the aisle where that particular product was situated. That is the power of marketing. Effective marketing has long been shown to be the thing that influences human behavior. So, in designing an education program that gets your people pumped about participating in a wellness program, you might want to consult your marketing department for ideas. Better yet, consult the marketing department of the employee wellness management platform you are using.
Incentivize the process
Incentive ideas for getting involved in a wellness program are plenteous. Here are a few of them.
- Lower health insurance premiums
- Lower copays when they visit the doctor
- Monetary incentive for people who bike to work
- Free helmets for people who bike to work
- Company-branded apparel and gear that encourages wellness practices- e.g. water bottles, wearable technology, gym wear.
Your company culture should reflect it
A lot of psychological and sociological studies have shown that people do what they see other people doing. We don’t like to admit it, but most of our personal habits and customs are influenced by what we saw other people doing while we were growing up. The same idea applies to company culture. If the culture around your company encourages healthy snacking, has standing desk options and a fitness facility on-site, people are more likely to take wellness seriously.
Make it fun
A wellness program shouldn’t punish people or make them feel excluded. This takes the joy out of your wellness program and pushes people away. Making it fun and inclusive is always a powerful way to get people involved. Using wellness challenges, such as a 5K run on a weekend where people have to build their teams and compete against other departments, is a fun and yet inclusive way to encourage participation, for instance.
Designing Your Wellness program
Not everyone is going to participate in your wellness program. However, you can design wellness programs that enable more than 20% of your employees to get involved. It improves productivity for your company and will has the side effect of making your company an attractive one to work for. If you enjoyed this post, share it with another manager or employer that is looking for solutions for an effective employee wellness program.