5 Things to Keep in Mind Before Kicking Off a Well-Being Program

A great well-being program gets employees ready to do great work. When employees show up healthy, energized and with a purpose, they're more engaged. Seventy-six percent more engaged than employees with lower well-being, according to recent research. It's no secret that driving employee engagement is the holy grail for employers.

And the impact is significant. Engaged employees go above and beyond, embrace diverse approaches, drive innovation and deliver better business results. To drive real employee engagement, you need an effective well-being program that employees love and want to use.

The reason some wellness programs feel invasive and punitive while others are inspiring and positive starts with how an organization rolls out their program. Here are five strategies to keep in mind when developing your well-being program:

Check your goals (and metrics)

If you're rolling out a well-being program with a primary goal of cutting healthcare costs, you're missing the point. Your goal should be to improve the well-being of your people. We know that when companies authentically invest in the well-being of their employees, they drive business results that matter so much more than saving a few percentage points on insurance.

So, tie your program goals directly to your business goals. For example, if you're in retail, you can connect your well-being program to improved customer satisfaction and same-store sales. If you're in manufacturing, you can link your well-being program to improved safety and productivity. Your well-being program goals should have a positive and personal impact on your employees.

Support your employees

Throwing fitness trackers at employees doesn't make magic happen. And asking employees to eat healthy but only offering junk food in the cafeteria does more harm than good. Instead, build a culture and environment that makes well-being improvement possible.

After all, when an employee feels like their employer cares about their well-being, they're 38 percent more engaged at work, which is key to successfully achieving results in an organization. Unsure of the best ways to support employees? Start with your managers. According to recent research, they're the #1 way employees feel supported by the organization. Train managers on how to be really good managers, for a start.

Look beyond health

Although we've been talking about well-being for more than a decade, "holistic" is still making its way out of the psychology textbooks and into the corporate world. Today's employees need more than a narrowly focused clinical health program.

They need a whole-person approach that helps them address their physical, mental, financial and work well-being.Stress is a great place to start. The American Psychological Association found 80 percent of doctor visits are due to stress, which results in 550 billion work days lost each year. Is stress a health problem? An emotional problem? A work problem? Or maybe even a financial problem?

It could be all of them, which is why it's important to look beyond just health in your program. Be sure to offer a variety of activities that don't just reward your fitness gurus. Programs should promote total well-being and tie in all of your whole-person programs and benefits to create an excellent guided employee experience.

Make it personal

You want your employees to love and use the program. Not just once, but over and over again. To achieve this, the program must be personalized and give your employees choices. This means your well-being program is culturally more challenging to roll out than a new payroll or time tracking system. But it's worth the effort.

Connect wellness programs to your most popular HR programs, like learning and talent management tools and financial planning resources, so employees can discover relevant tools and enjoy a personalized experience. Add in volunteering and corporate giving to add some social energy, too.

Modern well-being and engagement technology uses the same big data and machine learning approaches Amazon uses to recommend books. Imagine a world where a new manager automatically receives an invitation for online manager training and earns points in the well-being program once it's completed.

Or she's pushed to sign up for a 401k plan to deal with the retirement-savings-related stress she shared in a quiz. These automatic connections are totally possible today.

Reward what matters

The most modern and authentic well-being programs reward people in ways that are intrinsically, socially and culturally motivating. In other words, they reward employees who commit to making positive changes because it feels good - not because they'll receive a financial benefit. I've seen great success with incentives that reflect a company's culture.

Show off employee participation with desk certificates or coveted swag. Give employees peer recognition with leaderboards and social cheers. Offer experiences like lunch with the CEO or tickets to an event. These types of incentives can be more meaningful than a small financial discount on a health plan coverage. And a lot cheaper than a big one.

Building well-being in the workplace requires a program that's more than getting people to jump through hoops for rewards and incentives. Recent research found that 99 percent of employees with high well-being and organizational support say their company is a great place to work.

With the right foundation, goals and whole-person approach, your well-being program is on its way to driving real employee engagement and better business results. And maybe that coveted "great place to work" status.

About the Author

Henry Albrecht is the founder & CEO of Limeade, a corporate well-being technology company that drives real employee engagement. Connect with Henry and the Limeade team on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.