Why some companies are still struggling with wellness programs

Dive Brief:

  • Employees who participate in wellness programs tend to be more satisfied with their health and feel more productive at work, but even employers who offer such programs may unwittingly present barriers to their employees, a new survey from HealthFitness reveals.
  • According to the survey, 79% of wellness program participants were "extremely satisfied" with their wellness programs and signaled they'd be more likely to stay with their current employer or refer someone else to the company. 70% of participants also said their wellness program was a signal that their employer "cares about them."
  • However, 60% of nonparticipants noted that they wanted to be involved with wellness, but for whatever reason couldn't. A majority of nonparticipants (69%) simply "weren't aware" of their employer's wellness programs, but 53% felt barriers to participating were in place, including a lack of support from the employer.

Dive Insight:

For any company program to work, it has to stem from a place of authenticity within that company's culture. An employer that provides a wellness program but doesn't put any incentives in place to access that program — including giving employees time to participate — will likely see little to no ROI. Incentives can include a variety of options, though to improve program engagement in the first place, many are turning to direct cash to capture employee attention.

The core issue at hand is one that many experts have noted: You have to engage employees where they are in their health journey, and on their terms. To do that, some employers may need to improve the tech surrounding their wellness offerings to ensure an employee can access wellness programs in a variety of ways, be it via mobile, over telephone or otherwise. Conversations at the Benefits Forum and Expo this year showed that personalization is likely the next front for wellness and benefits overall.

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Filed Under: Comp & Benefits