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Wellness that Works! (Part 3)

Teamwork, Employees that are all inWelcome to the 3rd installment of wellness that works.

In the past two episodes we have covered what wellness is and how to get leadership involved in developing and implementing a wellness program. In this episode we will cover how to get employees to participate in the program.

One of the most important aspects of planning and implementation of a wellness program is developing a plan to ensure employee participation. The average rate of participation in a wellness program is 20%, whereas exemplary wellness programs show an average participation rate of approximately 60% (Goetzel & Ozminkowski, 2008).

Participation rate is one way to measure the success of the program. The rate of employee participation allows safety personnel to judge how effective the wellness program roll out has been. The goal to increase the participation rate should not waver for the length of the program. If you find your numbers start off lower than you had hoped, don’t be discouraged, sometimes it takes a while for a program to “catch on”. Be consistent with your plan but work on ways to increase the participation for your employees. Here are some ideas to help increase your employee participation:

Tips for a great participation rate:
  1. Be Pertinent: The most successful programs speak to all of the interests and concerns of employees (I want to feel and look better, have more energy, meet new people, have fun).
  2. Stay Positive: When people feel good about themselves and what they’re doing right, they have the fortitude to tackle what isn’t working.
  3. Communication: Choose the proper channels to spread the word on the wellness program. For instance, if all of your employees have email, then you can use email to communicate upcoming wellness seminars or classes, but if you have employees that do not have email access, you will need to get that information out in a different medium.
  4. Get Personal: People are more likely to respond to information that pertains specifically to them. Consider more personal methods, such as face to face, as this will be more impactful. Individuals receiving tailored messages were 18% more likely to change at least one risk factor compared with 1% for those receiving generic messages.
  5. Set goals for participants: Research has shown that people are 85% more likely to stick to a goal if they have someone keeping them accountable and continually motivating them to keep going.
  6. Offer wellness options for home life: A study showed that support received from family and friends were found to be the strongest predictor of adherence on a long term program (at months 7 – 12).
  7. Use an independent vendor: According to the RedBrick survey, employers that took advantage of wellness experts saw an increase in participation rates of 83 percent across core programs.

The use of incentives to increase employee participation is a touchy topic. Some feel that it is necessary to use to increase participation, studies show that employers providing incentives in any amount experienced average engagement rates nearly 107 percent higher than those employers that did not provide any incentive. However, some feel that these increased engagement rates are only “temporarily” and when the incentives stop so does the healthy behavior. If you choose to use incentives here are some ideas to make the incentives pay off:

  • Allow the employees to determine what the incentives will be. Self-selection of incentives is crucial for motivation to be meaningful to the individual participating in the workplace wellness program.
  • Small incentives along the way. Increasing employee participation can be done by breaking the criteria for wellness into smaller steps in order to add more frequent rewards.

A high rate of participation is one statistic that will help to demonstrate the success of any wellness program. It is evident that getting people to change their behaviors is not an easy task; however, these tips and tricks can get you started off on the right foot. In the next installment, we will dive into the other methods to measure the effectiveness of the wellness program.

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