Effective Communication Key to Successful Wellness Programs

Successful wellness programs are a win-win for both parties. For the employer, they increase retention, productivity, and employee satisfaction. A recent MetLife study showed that holistically healthy employees are:


    • 51% more likely to stay for at least a year.

    • 53% more likely to be productive, and

    • 74% more likely to be satisfied


The workplace wellness market has been growing steadily in recent years as employers recognize the benefits of investing in their employees’ health and well-being. Some of the benefits of workplace wellness programs include increased employee engagement and productivity, reduced absenteeism, and lower healthcare costs.


According to Allied Market Research, the global workplace wellness market size was valued at $49.8 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $66.2 billion by 2027, registering a compound annual growth rate of 5.9% from 2020 to 2027.


Companies, governments, and institutions across the globe spend countless billions on incentive programs in hopes of motivating employees to do everything from working out at the gym to eating nutritious meals.


Yet, despite the brainpower devoted to devising creative rewards and fine-tuning offerings, employees don’t always buy in.


The reason might be as simple as employees not knowing about the incentive programs. Leslie John, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, and a team of researchers found that a major factor holding back wellness incentive programs may be a lack of effective advertising.


“All this money and time and smart people thinking about programs is all for naught if we don’t effectively communicate them,” John says.


According to John, you don’t have to look hard to find examples of thoughtfully designed incentives that failed to move the needle. Companies lay out funds on wellness programs each year, underwriting gym memberships and offering other perks, yet analyses find only a third or so of employees at US companies take advantage of these programs.


John and her fellow researchers proposed that the problem may not be the incentives themselves, but how they are presented. Failing to promote incentives effectively could lead to fewer people taking advantage of them.


“We have to make [an incentive] really salient to employees so they actually use it,” John says.


This combination of incentives with a low-touch outreach campaign could potentially be used to target any number of issues, from helping people quit smoking, to eating healthier, to exercising regularly, John says.


She suggests companies take these three steps to rethink incentives:


Try incentives through a pilot program first. Start with a smaller group of participants and, once that is successful, branch out. Executives should think carefully about what issues or behaviors they want to encourage and whether there is enough interest on the part of employees to get the necessary buy-in.


Promote incentives effectively. While this could mean sending out an email or text every other day, it could also involve something as simple as hanging a sign along with the text that you want to be sure employees see in bold type or highlighted.


“If people feel like you are trying to manipulate them, they may well do the opposite,” John says, adding that sending employees two emails a day, for example, would be overkill. “You don’t want to go overboard. You don’t want to be spamming people.”


Keep reviewing the incentives you offer. Consider offering a variety of rewards tailored to a participant’s personal interests, making for a meaningful experience.


With all the money that’s spent on wellness programs, there are still two fundamental problems that cause them to underperform. First, they are not branded or appropriately marketed. Secondly, A cash reward or some other form, such as gift cards, while widely used, is soon forgotten and not an effective long-term motivator.



At All Star Incentive Marketing, we believe a corporate wellness program with strong incentives can go a long way towards supporting your employees in adopting new habits and managing their health. When these programs succeed, everybody wins.



We’ll work with you to set goals and devise a strategy to promote wellness throughout your organization— from healthy eating, weight loss, and physical fitness to smoking cessation programs and disease management.



In economic terms, the multiplier effect refers to the proportional increase or decrease in final income that results from an injection or withdrawal of capital. In terms of Safety Reward Programs, the multiplier effect might refer to the ROI² (Return on Incentive Investment). A properly structured program significantly impacts overall employee engagement and safety culture, where employees are attuned to safety-related issues, inspired to display “Above & Beyond” safe behaviors, willing to be safety ambassadors, and encouraged to promote learning and support continuous improvement. Such best-in-class programs are designed to promote group objectives and reward individual behavior, engaging, motivating, and rewarding the people behind your success.

Fortunately, there are thousands of companies in high-risk industries that have excellent safety programming, training, and coaching in place. Many include safety in their list of core values and have invested heavily in EHS (Environment, Health, and Safety) technology, training, telematics, and personnel. However, too many miss the opportunity to incentivize and recognize individual safety contributions, behaviors, and performance.

Programs featuring tangible and experiential awards as the reward currency can have a multiplying effect that pays dividends. Benefits include a more highly engaged workforce, fewer accidents and incidents, reduced claims and losses, lower turnover and absenteeism, better communication, increased productivity, visibility to leading and lagging indicators, incremental coaching and training opportunities, and improved profitability.

So, what’s the rub? Are engagement programs focused on employee safety, health, and wellness expensive to implement? Do they only make sense for companies with thousands of safety-sensitive workers? The answer to both questions is no. Properly structured programs can be cost-effective and right-sized for companies with as few as 100 safety-sensitive workers up to those with 10,000 or more. The ROI² of these programs can be expressed as a ratio (in this case, 4:1), with quantitative results showing a savings of $4.00 for every $1.00 invested and qualitative results revealing higher employee morale, which serves as a catalyst for productivity. Safety Reward Programs help to mitigate risk, elevate employee engagement, and improve overall safety culture. They also present an excellent opportunity for companies to simply say thank you to their employees for being safe, committed, and engaged.

People have an inherent need to know that their efforts do not go unnoticed. Safety Reward Programs provide the stimulus and energy that encourage employees to perform at their best and achieve new heights.

Brian Galonek


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