Once you start a Employee Wellness Plan you will have a range of staff member
members. Some will already be very engaged in being active and eating well and
your program will only reinforce and enhance their health. On the other end
of the spectrum will be employees who may not engage no matter what you do.
The remaining group is probably the largest group in most organizations: employees
who are at various stages of readiness to improve their health given the right
type of programming and motivation. Summarized below are some tips you may want
to employ once your program is up and running.
Key Factors in Employee Wellness Plan
In today’s society there are many key factors that influence people’s
health behaviors. Consider the following list in maintaining participation in
- TIME. People are busy, so the more you can work activity
and healthy eating into their existing schedules, the better your chances
for success. Example: A walk at lunch doesn’t take away from existing
time, it just uses it differently. Also review the time of the day and length
of any activity you might be promoting, since both time components may be
- ACCESS. How accessible is your Employee Wellness Program.
Is it onsite or at a nearby site? Do you offer access at breaks or outside
of normal work hours?
- KNOWLEDGE. People need to know “Why” they are
participating (the benefits) and also will need information about the “How
to” in areas that are not commonly known.
- COST. Make certain that you can provide no cost or decreased
cost Employee Wellness Programs will help participation rates. Coupled with
incentives for participation, rates of participation will likely increase
- INCENTIVES. Some employees need incentives to get started
in a Employee Wellness Program. A full list of Employee Wellness Plan incentive
options can be on the website.
Key Time Periods in Employee Wellness Plan
Good habits are often difficult to develop. There tends to be some critical
times when employees drop out or fall off of a physical activity or diet program.
The first key time zone seems to be around 6 weeks. If employees can start and
stay consistent with a program through the first 6 weeks, they have made a fairly
serious commitment to incorporate the habits into their lifestyle. The second
key time is at about 6 months. Those who made it past 6 weeks may get bored
and/or distracted from their program after several months. If employees can
get past 6 months and sustain behavior through a full set of weather seasons,
they have a very good chance of making the changes permanent.
Consider these time periods and think about how you can “boost”
your employees to get them past these critical time markers. Promoting individual
or group “challenges”, using incentives, or raised publicity/marketing
are a few of the things you can do to help get your employees through these
key time periods
Goal Setting for Employee Wellness Plan
Setting goals has been shown to lead to better participation and more employees
making a strong commitment. Whether it be a team goal of walking the equivalent
of once around your state or an individual goal of so many miles or minutes
of activity, the fact that there is something concrete to shoot for increases
the likelihood employees will stick with the program.
Buddy Systems or Team Goals for Employee Wellness Plan
The social aspects of improving one’s health cannot be underestimated.
Many research studies point to tight social groups being the backbone for a
successful campaign because each individual has a commitment to something bigger
than themselves and besides, it’s just more fun for most employees. Build
your program around some type of teams or partners and see what happens.
Team “Campaigns” for Employee Wellness Plan
Some employees like competition and others don’t. Nevertheless, a worksite
wide campaign has the advantage of keeping the message more visible and alive.
Encourage campaign participation, but make it voluntary so that those who prefer
that type of motivation can join while others can take part in their own way
and at their own pace. If the idea of a campaign seems like too much work, consider
tapping into existing campaigns where someone else provides resources for you.
Incentives for Employee Wellness Plan
Incentives are often helpful in maintaining or raising interest. Significant
incentives such as cash or medical insurance rebates have proven to be very
strong motivators for staff member participation. However, even smaller incentives
can be beneficial. Listed below are some sample incentives:
- Achievement awards. Verbal praise and a pat on the back
are motivational to some, but a token of recognition of achievement may offer
more. A colorful certificate to congratulate an staff member for achieving
a health-related goal is one example.
- Public recognition. Announced recognition at campaign
mid-point or wrap-up festivities.
- Food. Include some healthy foods to kick-off, revitalize
or wrap up a wellness campaign.
- Entertainment. Events serve a purpose in jump-starting,
reenergizing or wrapping up a campaign. Having entertainment of any kind can
- Merchandise. There is a long list of merchandise incentives,
including sports equipment and small gift certificates to use at local merchants.
- Monetary incentives. Nothing says incentive better than
cash. Businesses that have used cash or rebates as an incentive have shown
much higher participation rates.
- Time off. Maybe the next best incentive to cash, or for
some employees even better. This type of incentive makes good business sense
if the number of absences drops significantly and attendance is used as one
of the criteria.