Business of Well-being

Engagement & Participation are Key for a Successful Corporate Wellness Program

Many companies have or are beginning to establish corporate wellness programs for employees as it uniquely benefits both the employee and the company. The benefits for the company include a higher level of productivity, retention, achievement, better peer relationships, and reduced absenteeism among others. Sounds great, but this can only happen when there is engagement in the program and consistent participation.

This is an age old question in the world of corporate wellness. How do we get our employees to engage, but more importantly, how do we keep consistent participation. This article will explore some options for not only engaging employees, but also keeping them consistently participating in your corporate wellness programming.

Company Leadership Support

One of the foundational requirements of a successful corporate wellness program is that executive management be on board and supportive. The leadership and culture of the company will steer the initial engagement and in turn continued participation in the program. The tone is established by the leadership of the company and must encourage and support each employee's efforts to utilize the corporate wellness programming.

It is extremely important for management to create an environment that is conducive to engagement and participation. In other words, management needs to create a program that actually makes it easy to participate in. Human nature will find excuses not to participate, so it is important that the company stands behind the wellness investment and facilitates participation.

Employee Engagement

Once you have strong management support for the corporate wellness program, you will have to plan how to engage employees in the program. As you plan your wellness program, it is important to keep in mind that you need a variety of options to offer the workforce. Below are a few suggestions to encourage employee engagement.  You may also come up with an original idea that will speak specifically to your workforce:

  • Education:  By educating your employees, especially the sedentary or non-wellness population, you can draw them into the program.  This is a vital part of any successful health and wellness program.  The sedentary population of your workforce needs to know and understand the many benefits of living a healthy lifestyle and how to make those changes.  This will be the most challenging group to reach, but once you do it will be the most rewarding.
  • Incentives:  Depending upon the culture of your company this can be a fundamental method to engage your employees in a wellness program, especially when the incentive is monetary.  But keep in mind that this can also provide a temporary motivation when the goal is to create long term positive behavioral changes.
  • On-site fitness professional:  Whether you have a fitness center within your company or not, you can hire someone to perform fitness assessments, personal training or to teach classes. This shows each employee that you are serious about the wellness programming. Having a fitness professional on-site also gives your employees a resource for health and fitness information, support and motivation.

Once an employee engages in wellness and fitness programming, he or she will feel better about life and work. The employee will exhibit a more positive outlook regarding work product and the work environment. There is a two-way benefit for the employee and the company. A win-win, if you will.

Keeping Consistent Participation

Once your employees decide to engage in your Corporate Wellness program, the next step is consistent participation. Our research has shown that this can be accomplished through the 3-P's to participation leading to program success:

  1. Presence: Having highly trained, goal-oriented fitness personnel on-site to facilitate the program.  A fitness professional can provide education, support, and motivation to your workforce.
  2. Programming: Cutting edge programming and execution of services provides incentives and interest to your corporate wellness programming. Offering a variety of the top programs in the fitness world will draw in different audiences of your workforce.
  3. Promotion: Promoting your wellness programming with targeted internal marketing that offers an educational value will help create interest in corporate wellness. There are many avenues to market to your workforce including newsletters, informational and educational emails, social media, etc.

Combining presence, programming and promotion will drive participation, thus resulting in increased retention and reduced attrition. Consistent participation is critical because the more the employees participate, the more likely they will experience results. The results in turn fuel the continued participation of the employee. The ultimate goal of the company is behavioral change and engaging all employees, especially the sedentary population, into a healthy and fit lifestyle.  

For the company, this has a multitude of benefits that they are offering to their workforce, as well as creating an ROI for the company. Additionally, there is a cutting edge way to engage employees in a corporate wellness program: technology. This concept is fairly new to the health and fitness world and will transform corporate wellness programming. By combining social media and fitness you will open up numerous avenues for employees to engage and participate in your company wellness program as well as with coworkers.  

With the blend of social media and fitness, your employees can communicate with each other online which will create team building, bonding and even healthy competition. Each participating employee will have access to online nutrition, and health and fitness tools. This electronic tool includes educational health and fitness blogs, networking with colleagues, forums, and a comprehensive calendar of healthy events within the company community.

This type of platform will tie together the entire corporate wellness program through open communication between coworkers, education, rewards and incentives. Your corporate wellness program will become a desired commodity within the company which will encourage the engagement and participation necessary to drive results and eventually the ROI the company is looking for from the investment.

As an employer, you may be wondering whether or not having a corporate wellness program is vital to your workforce and worth the initial investment. The bottom line is that when employees feel cared for by their company, they are more likely to have a 'sell out' mentality toward the employer and their position in the company.

This will lead to the additional cost benefit of employee retention. The benefits of a corporate wellness program are numerous and with wise planning and executive management support, you can engage your employees to participate, thus leading to healthier employees and a healthy ROI.

About the Author

Deborah MacArthur is the Director of Marketing and PR for FACTS Fitness, a Commercial and Corporate Fitness Management Company located near Philadelphia, PA  FACTS Fitness currently owns and/or manages commercial fitness centers including Ellis Athletic Center in Newtown Square, PA and Steel Fitness in Bethlehem, PA. Corporate Wellness clients have included BPG Properties, BPG Elite Properties, Coca Cola, T-Mobile, Penn State Lehigh Valley and many more.

Learn about how you can become a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist→