Step 4: Generating Employee Buy-in

The success of your wellness program will depend upon the involvement and engagement of employees in wellness initiatives. Wellness programs also help to reinforce that the employee and the organization share responsibility for and a commitment to employee health.

Encourage participation in assessment efforts, and invite interested employees to participate in or provide feedback to the Wellness Team.

Incentives to Boost Morale and Encourage Employee Participation

icon-yoga-largeExamples of incentives used to reward positive health behaviors include:

  • financial rewards such as gift cards
  • merchandise (e.g., T-shirts, hats, water bottles, sports equipment, pedometers, aprons, cookbooks, cookware)
  • “big prize” drawings based on high levels of wellness participation (e.g., iPod, iPad, Wii Fit, vacation time, trip/activity vouchers)
  • coupons for produce at local retailers
  • company-/organization-sponsored parties or picnics when collective health goals are met
  • paid time off from work (e.g., ability to leave work 30 minutes early on Friday, or arrive 30 minutes late on Monday)
  • subsidies for health promotion classes, disease management programs or gym memberships
  • lower health insurance premiums related to achieving health goals
  • recognition by co-workers or supervisors
    • a letter of congratulations from senior management to the employee for his/her participation, adoption of healthy behaviors or meeting a health goal
    • certificates of accomplishment or appreciation for participation
    • recognition on the organization website
    • newsletter “spotlights” on their personal accomplishments

Mentoring as a Way to Provide Support

Mentoring is another way employers can provide support to employees to adopt and adhere to a wellness program. This can take form in a variety of ways, including:

  • Develop a “buddy system” whereby individuals support one another in reaching personal wellness goals, and adhering to employer policies. Partnering with another employee increases the likelihood that employees will stick to their goals, and enjoy the process as well.
  • Identify and train certain employees as staff mentors for their peers to provide advice, guidance, encouragement, or answer questions about employer policies.
  • Establish teams of employees interested in similar activities or goals that work together on a common purpose (e.g., meeting to walk or jog together after work; exchanging healthy recipes, adhering to healthy choices at meal and snack times, quitting smoking or tobacco use, etc.).
    • This type of approach could also be facilitated through “friendly-competition” in the form of weight loss challenges or walking competitions.
    • There are a number of websites and applications available to support and enable the implementation of these types of friendly competition.

Communication with Employees on the Advantages of Wellness Programs

It’s critical to communicate with employees about the existence, purpose, goals and design of wellness programs to garner participation and motivation. There are several ways to introduce or kick off a new program, including inviting a guest speaker from a local organization (e.g., wellness resource or sports team) or hosting a health fair. The Wellness Team can also engage employees through:

  • newsletters (paper or electronic)
  • emails/memos
  • social media/marketing (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
  • bulletin boards or posters in common areas and hallways
  • lunch and learns
  • in-person staff meetings
  • information in payroll envelopes or through electronic/web-based payroll notifications
Once you conduct an assessment, you will need to set wellness goals, objectives and a timeline.