By Scott Foster
Nov. 8, 2012
Employee engagement is consistently rated one of the top wellness program challenges. For worksite wellness programs to be effective, the vast majority of your employees need to participate. Otherwise, non-participants will develop health conditions faster than those who do participate.
To receive optimal results from your company's wellness program, you need to have a participation rate of at least 80 percent. Without employee participation, your wellness program isn't going to accomplish your goals or improve the health and associated costs of your workforce. These strategies will help improve participation and engagement among employees.
Don't charge employees for their participation
The number one thing you can do to promote participation is to make it cost employees nothing. This not only encourages participation, but it also lets your employees know that you're investing in them and their health. Many of your employees need to choose between paying the rent and going to the doctor. As a result, preventable health screenings and visits have noticeably declined and related catastrophic conditions are on the upsurge. Providing these services during work hours without forcing them to give up breaks, lunch, or paid time off is another great way to encourage participation.
Convenience is one of the biggest predictors of wellness program participation. A key best practice is to make the healthier choice the easier choice. The bottom line is that people don't want to be inconvenienced. So, perform coaching and health screenings onsite and allow appointments. That way employees don't have to drive across town or wait in lines for these vital services.
Incentivize employee participation
Believe it or not, some employees still won't participate even if it costs them nothing. They will participate, however, if they get a definitive benefit from doing so. Educate them about the Affordable Care Act and about their preventative care benefits. The majority of your employees are still unaware of their modifiable health risks such as blood pressure and cholesterol measurement. Then take it one step further and offer encouragement such as bonuses, gift cards, merchandise, money, paid time off, and health plan premium reductions as further incentive for participation.