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3 Mistakes Companies Make with Corporate Wellness Programs

April 20, 2016

Creating a wellness program is a great way to encourage your employees to live a healthy life. However, mistakes can be made. Here’s how to avoid them:

Having No Plan

Many companies create their program without a plan. When you don’t know what you want your company and employees to accomplish, corporate wellness program easily get off track and have poor results.

How to Fix It

The only way a wellness program are successful long-term is if you make a plan and can adjust according to results over time.

  1. Sit down with your HR Department and other related departments to work out a plan with specific goals, including:
  • Short and long term goals
  • Budget goals
  1. Implement employee customization:
  • If your employees smoke and wish to quit, have a smoking program
  • If your employees are mainly sitting at their desks all day, have a program that gets them moving during the day

Making the Program Too Complicated

Wellness programs work best when all employees understand them. That way, they can effectively use the program and decide what part of the program they want to participate in. If they don’t understand the program because it’s too complicated, they won’t participate.

How to Fix It:

Be clear about:

  • What the goals are: What does your company hope to achieve with a wellness program? Do you want to reduce healthcare costs? Decrease employee absenteeism? Creating a realistic goal will help you stay on track.
  • Who is in charge: Having more than one department in charge of the program is not only confusing, but there can be a lack of communication between the departments leading to a case of “the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.”
  • How employees benefit: Employees need to know what they’re getting out of participating besides a healthier lifestyle. Without rewards or incentives, they won’t participate.

With a clear picture how the program works, employees will be more likely to participate and show results—especially if the atmosphere is fun and upbeat.

Forcing Participation

While mandatory wellness programs are often made with the best of intentions, it can lead to both morale and legal issues down the road. For example, several companies who made their wellness programs mandatory were sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In addition, a mandatory program can cause employees resentment. Not only will they have privacy concerns, but they will also feel that participating against their will will cause undue stress in their work environment—especially if they’re required to reach a specific health standard.

How to Fix It

Make your wellness program voluntary and offer rewards to employees who participate like reimbursing some of the cost of their gym membership. Just make sure that when you create a wellness program and choose rewards, you can afford it and aren’t violating any laws.

Up Next: What to Do when Wellness Programs Aren’t Enough