Experience tells me that often times employees are reluctant to participate in an employer-funded wellness program. Some don't believe the program is being offered with the employee's best interest in mind and others simply do not want their employer to know their personal health information. Others are not ready for change. Unfortunately, it is unlikely you will win the trust of your entire team but with these tips you will have the best chance at it!1. Start the conversation early. Don't just spring it on them. Let your employees know that you care about their health and therefore, are searching for a program that will meet the needs of your entire population. Let them know the timeframe in which you hope to have a wellness program established. Ask for help choosing the vendor. This is where your wellness champions will surface. They are the boots on the ground who can communicate the process, gather feedback, and get the team excited for what is to come. Once you have chosen your vendor, talk about it to your employees. Tell them how excited you are to be working with this vendor and how they have helped other companies like yours.
2. Offer a wellness program that meets each employee where they are. A one size fits all wellness program is sure to alienate a portion of your population. You need a program that can meet the needs of your unhealthy unfit population all the way across the bell curve meeting the needs of your rock stars and everyone in between. Your rock stars are critical components to your wellness program as they are the ones who can engage those who are reluctant to participate.
3. Include family members. Programs that only focus on the workplace and not the home will likely feel similar to banging your head against a brick wall. This healthy lifestyle change has to be practiced and supported 24/7 not just M-F 8-5. If the family is making the changes at home wellness will come easier at work.
4. Make sure you have top-down buy-in and participation. If the leadership team isn't doing it, your employees will wonder why. "Why do I have to do it when the CFO isn't? I knew this program was not in our best interest." "Why is this only targeting us? If leadership isn't doing it, it must not be a very good program."- and the conversation goes on and on. I see, first hand, the difference in a company who has leadership driving wellness versus the company who has no (or very little) participation from leadership. The results are night and day.
5. Make it fun! Keep in mind that not everything to do with wellness is fun. Preventative doctor appointments are biometric testing are not exactly exciting. Activities such as exercise, volunteering, and challenges sound much more fun and elicit the healthy behaviors you are looking for.