Corporate wellness programs are a nearly $8 billion industry in the U.S. and are expected to grow by almost 8% through 2021. Initially, some wellness programs were instituted as a way for management to reduce health-care costs and focused primarily on weight loss and smoking cessation. Business leaders today expect much more from their wellness programs.
Employers now realize that, in addition to the primary benefits of these programs, they can also have secondary benefits linked to employee morale, engagement, and retention. Combining general “well being” initiatives with career development efforts allows companies to become true employers of choice.
Just as employee reward and recognition programs are not one-size-fits-all, neither are wellness programs. Digital platforms allow for personalized experiences for each employee so that they can determine their own path to a healthier lifestyle and work life, with goals set based on their current health status. Experts predict that artificial intelligence software will play a major role in wellness programs, making a more personal experience even easier.
That said, experts recommend a “less is more” program design to keep wellness programs simple. When employees are required to complete multiple tasks in relation to the wellness program, their stress level can actually increase.
6 Elements of an Effective Wellness Program:
- Keep the program simple. It should be easy to register and complete steps. Remove as many barriers as possible for employee participation.
- Reward for activity and results. Rewarding for results makes sense, but selectively rewarding for activities as well is a great way to get to the results. Rewarding both group and individual behavior is also important.
- Reward the right things. As mentioned above, reward employees for healthier behavior, not just for completing steps in the process. Rewarding employees for accomplishing goals will help to establish and reinforce healthier habits for the long term.
- Offer positive incentives. When companies punish employees for poor behavior rather than rewarding appropriate behavior, the program can take on a negative feel. Recognize and reward good performers and do so publicly when possible to make the recognition sink in.
- Hire a Professional. Use a professional firm to help design your employee wellness program. Partner with an experienced company to make sure that the program is structured for maximum benefit and to avoid unintended consequences.
- Support from the top. The company leaders MUST walk the talk so that employees understand that this is a company initiative that carries some weight. When management does not participate or show visible support for the program, employees will not take it seriously and may adopt a “this too shall pass” attitude.
Employees are under stress from any number of external sources. They may be struggling with child care, taking care of elderly parents or may have health issues of their own. A personalized wellness program can offer ways in which to reduce stress, understand the importance of sleep and encourage other healthier habits, making for an all-around more productive and healthier employee.
All Star Incentive Marketing is a solution provider to some of the industry’s top health insurance and wellness providers. Their expertise in designing effective recognition and reward components ensure effective corporate wellness program design and results.