How to Motivate Employees to Use Wellness Programs

Employers are incorporating wearables into their workplace wellness programs. How can they promote health and well-being? Read on:

  • Give employees these devices or offer a subsidy rather than requiring them to buy them completely on their own.
  • Set goals; encourage employees to meet them and earn incentives.
  • Involve employees’ spouses or domestic partners to increase participation and create a support system outside the workplace.
  • Start small with a pilot program and identify ways to improve participation before offering the program to your entire workforce.

By supporting using wearables with communications, making it financially feasible and encouraging long-term use with incentives, you’ll help gain buy-in to wellness programs.

That’s just the beginning. Some organizations have designed their programs to be fun and include team-based elements, finding that social support inspires friendly competition.

Often, “carrots and sticks” are used to lure employees to take part in wellness programs and get into better shape. But what about financial rewards and/or prizes? Do they work? And which motivational models work better than others?

  • Some companies use rewards to motivate employees to take health/risk assessments. Incentives worth $100 motivate employees to get biometric screenings for cholesterol and blood pressure, for example.
  • But — does all this lead to action? Yes, as one firm used reducing health insurance premiums by 75 percent to get employees to participate in completing health-risk assessments.
  • Earning rewards or avoiding penalties help employees take action to improve their health, such as by joining a weight-management program.
  • One city tasked its employees to complete three things to avoid a $25 monthly payroll surcharge. They had to fill out a health risk assessment, take a biometric screening, talk to a health coach, sign up for a program such as Weight Watchers or get such screenings as mammograms. Ninety percent of the employees have completed three or more tasks.
  • Other companies use rewards to motivate employees to lower their cholesterol, blood pressure or weight. Employers can use such steps as enrolling in a weight-management program or reducing body mass index.

Critics believe the models that rely on carrots or sticks may be discriminatory and decrease access to health care. Legally, employers must offer workers who don’t hit targets an alternative way to earn the incentive — a doctor’s note can take the place of program participation. This may mean the employees never reach the goal. Be sure to get qualified advice as you launch a program for your employees.

However, despite the work, it may well be worth your time and energy to set up a wellness program like this. Employees often find them fun, and if properly run, the programs can build morale while improving health. Let us help you see whether something like this is right for your company, and how to organize such a program.