4 Reasons Why Worksite Wellness Programs Fail

Worksite wellness programs can not only be tough to get off the ground but can be hard to sustain.  At Alyfe Wellbeing Strategies, we can certainly help alleviate some of the roadblocks you may encounter.  However, even the best programs can fail to be successful if the 4 reasons below are not addressed in a meaningful way:

1. Lack of support from leadership.
Employees naturally take direction from their leaders, which makes leadership support throughout the organization vital to any worksite wellness program. From senior leaders, to line management, if the employees are not given the right encouragement to participate, they can often feel like they shouldn’t participate.

2. The program doesn’t address the whole person.
Each of us has our own idea of what it means to be well. Narrow programming can limit the engaged audience. If a worksite wellness program only focuses on weight loss, it may not capture the attention of someone who is happy with his weight, but has concerns around coping with stress.

3. The focus is on keeping the healthy healthy, and those at higher risk are overlooked.
Following the 80-20 rule, employers can estimate that 80 percent of employees contribute to 20 percent of the health care cost. That 80 percent is generally healthy, and will most likely be your highest engaged population. Because this group is already healthy for the most part, they will show little impact on your bottom line. While you should always work to maintain engagement and participation from your healthier low risk population, it’s also important to use strategies and offer programming that engages the moderate and high risk populations. Not only are these groups in most need of wellness interventions, but showing positive risk change in these groups will yield the most return on your investment.

4. The program offers rewards that don’t motivate participants.
Ideally, we want the worksite wellness program to create intrinsic motivation, with achieving wellness as the reward. Oftentimes, in order to create the intrinsic motivation, we have to begin with offering a reward. Your reward can make or break your wellness program. Consider the following when determining an appropriate reward:

Are you using a carrot, or stick? Most people respond better to positive rewards versus penalties. Typically, young worksite wellness programs benefit more from using the carrot method. Try to avoid penalties until your program is well established and you’ve created a culture of health within your population.

Does the reward promote wellness? Avoid items that could promote unhealthy behavior, such as fast food restaurant gift cards.

Does the reward value match the activity? Participants who are asked to dedicate time to completing multiple activities may expect a reward that has a higher value.

Will the reward sustain healthy behavior? Consider things such as immediate gratification, and ongoing rewards for continued participation.

Is the reward meaningful to your population? Some populations may be satisfied with a fun t-shirt, but other’s may prefer a premium reduction, or paid time off.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *