If you’ve been twiddling your thumbs waiting for researchers to report the Truth (with a capital T) about wellness programs, do yourself a favor and just get on with it.
But there are right and wrong ways to get on with it. Find ways to palatably introduce wellness to your employees. You know as well as I do that force-feeding anything to anyone–whether it’s wellness, broccoli, or Justin Bieber’s music–just doesn’t work. When I was a kid, my mom used to assemble outfits and demand that I wear them. I wore them, but you can bet that I seethed and proceeded to give her the death stare for the rest of the day. (I was an angsty child.) The same logic applies here. If you choose to strong-arm, you’re likely to wind up with frenemies (even if you don’t witness a mass exodus of employees from the program, they’ll be grumbling behind your back).
Spare yourself the agony. Have your employees “pick out their own outfits” instead. Ask them what they want in a wellness program. Not only will this give you vital information and insight about the biggest concerns of your workforce, it’ll motivate your employees and key you in on which avenues of outreach will be most effective. It’s almost a surefire way to hook employees. A creative and compelling message spurs employee engagement, and when employees feel empowered, they take the reins of their health.
We’ve administered simple electronic surveys for a number of our clients to gather employee input. These employee-directed wellness programs have soaring participation rates—rates that are sometimes even higher than for programs that are based on claims data.
So, moral of the story? Let your employees “dress” themselves. They’ll appreciate that you’re giving them some autonomy in a place where they probably don’t get much of it.