Wellness Program Engagement – How To Get Employees Engaged

Your wellness program engagement is not making an impact, what do you do? One of the most common issues we see employers, wellness coordinators and HR struggle with: it’s “employee engagement.” 

You have the best intentions at heart, you care about your employee’s health. You want to help them reduce health risks, you want to help them be more productive and you want to lower your healthcare costs too. Despite every effort, you struggle to get your employees engaged. 

While employee participation can be great, if you can’t get employees engaged, you won’t see positive results. Your employees are participating in your wellness offerings but as you’re likely seeing, their hearts are not in it. When employees are forced to participate, these are the types of results you’re going to get.

Wellness engagement is the first step your employees must take to begin living a healthier lifestyle. 

What’s the solution?

(1) Stages Of Change And Behaviors

The Stages Of Change Model, also called the Transtheoretical Model, is a great model to follow as it explains the stages we go through to change our behaviors. In total, there’s 6 stages;

  • Precontemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance 
  • Termination

When you can understand why employees are behaving in such manners, this model can be a game changer for your wellness program and employee engagement.  

The Transtheoretical Model (also called the Stages of Change Model), developed by Prochaska and DiClemente in the late 1970s, evolved through studies examining the experiences of smokers who quit on their own with those requiring further treatment to understand why some people were capable of quitting on their own. It was determined that people quit smoking if they were ready to do so. Thus, the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) focuses on the decision-making of the individual and is a model of intentional change. The TTM operates on the assumption that people do not change behaviors quickly and decisively. Rather, change in behavior, especially habitual behavior, occurs continuously through a cyclical process. The TTM is not a theory but a model; different behavioral theories and constructs can be applied to various stages of the model where they may be most effective.

The TTM posits that individuals move through six stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination. Termination was not part of the original model and is less often used in application of stages of change for health-related behaviors. For each stage of change, different intervention strategies are most effective at moving the person to the next stage of change and subsequently through the model to maintenance, the ideal stage of behavior.

  1. Precontemplation – In this stage, employees don’t have the intentions to take action in the foreseeable future (refers to the next 6 months). Employees are usually unaware that their behavior is problematic or produces negative consequences. Employees in this stage don’t understand the pros of changing behavior and put too much emphasis on the cons of changing behavior.
  2. Contemplation – In this stage, employees are intending to start healthy behaviors in the foreseeable future (refers to the next 6 months). People recognize that their behavior may be problematic, and a more thoughtful and practical consideration of the pros and cons of changing the behavior takes place, with equal emphasis placed on both. Even with this recognition, people may still feel ambivalent toward changing their behavior.
  3. Preparation (Determination) – In this stage, employees are ready to take action within the next 30 days. Employees begin to take small steps toward behavior change, and they believe changing their behavior can lead to a healthier life.
  4. Action – In this stage, employees have recently changed their behavior (within the last 6 months) and intend to keep moving forward with that behavior change. Employees may exhibit this by modifying their problem behavior or acquiring new healthy behaviors.
  5. Maintenance – In this stage, employees have sustained healthy behavior changes for some time (more than 6 months) and intend to maintain the behavior change going forward. Employees in this stage work to prevent relapse to earlier stages.
  6. Termination – In this stage, employees have no desire to return to their unhealthy behaviors and are sure they will not relapse. Since this is rarely reached, and people tend to stay in the maintenance stage, this stage is often not considered in health promotion programs. In fact, some models only use stages 1-5. 

(2) Which Employees Should Be Engaged?

We want you to think about your whole workforce. All 100 percent. Here’s what we know. 

Healthy Employees – A percentage of your workforce is healthy and follows consistent healthy behaviors. These employees don’t need your wellness program. 

Employees That Want To Be Healthy – A percentage of your workforce is interested in getting healthy. They’re willing to listen and participate, but this group often needs support and motivation to get them to engage in your wellness program. 

Employees That Need Pushed To Be Healthy – A percentage of your workforce needs intervention due to health risks. However, these employees are going to be a challenge to get engaged. 

Employees That Don’t Want Anything To Do With Your Program – A percentage of your workforce will never join your wellness program. It doesn’t matter how great the health incentives are, they will never join your program. Despite that, some can convert over but it takes constant engagement.

It’s fair to put these 4 groups in categories of 25 percent. When we do this, only 75 percent of your workforce is going to be targeted to build engagement. The more you understand these classes, the more focused you can be with specific content for each class of employees.

(3) Effective Communications And Marketing

We’ve seen first hand how powerful employee communications can be to build strong employee engagement. One of the services we offer here at Kadalyst is employee communications, which is designed to build employee engagement by having a consistent message in front of your employees. 

In fact, it’s not uncommon for us to see 90 percent employee engagement and more, mainly due to our focus on employee communications. If you want to influence your employees, you need communications and marketing. 

The messaging and communications will play a key role in whether employees participate or not. 

Think about this, how can your wellness program help employees?

  • Wellness programs can help employees lose weight.
  • Wellness programs can help employees sleep better.
  • Wellness programs can help employees avoid chronic diseases.
  • Wellness programs can help employees live longer.
  • Wellness programs can help employees be more productive.

Your employee wellness program solves problems, so these are the types of copy you want to get out to your employees. These are just a few of many examples, but communication and marketing is a big key to wellness program engagement. 

There’s a lot of ways you can position your wellness program to employees, this is something we know a lot about here at Kadalyst. Check this out.

(4) Your Communication Platforms

A lot of employers make the mistake of communicating their wellness program in a vacuum. They only focus on one marketing channel and that’s a big mistake. If you want to boost employee engagement, you must use multiple communication channels.

There’s a number of channels we can use to reach employees.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Website
  • Blogs
  • Email
  • Text
  • Newsletters
  • Printed Materials
  • Digital Materials
  • Brochures

Which are the most effective? All of them! If one channel gets one employee engaged, that’s a success. You’ll have to pay close attention to the data and analytics from each channel. 

Another core area you’re going to need strong communications for is employee benefits. Employee benefits communications need to give employees clarity so they fully understand the health benefits your company provides.

If your program doesn’t have the right message and communication, it’s going to be difficult to improve employee engagement.

(5) Focusing On Health Incentives

Look, health incentives are a huge pillar of your wellness program. Health incentives are key to wellness program engagement. There’s really two main categories of health incentives, small incentives and large incentives. Successful wellness solutions offer both.

Everyone has an opinion on incentives. Wellness coordinators, wellness managers, wellness companies, everyone has something to say. Here’s what we know without a shadow of doubt, health incentives work and they can greatly improve wellness program engagement.

In order for health incentives to work, you have to understand what it takes to change someone’s behavior. This is why we shared the TTM earlier. As it pertains to rewards, we want you to think about yourself. 

If you live a healthy life day in and day out, why do you do it? For the reward, right? For the benefits of the reward. Think about that, say it slowly. 

Now, there was a time before when you weren’t committed to working on your health every day. It takes time to create these behaviors, you have to understand that. If the employee doesn’t want it as badly as you do, you can’t force their hand. Rather, you have to lead, support, motivate and keep that employee engaged. Health incentives is one way to get and keep employee engagement. 

(6) Your Wellness Committee

Every wellness program should have a wellness committee. For one, it shows employees that you’re serious about their health. It shows you’re serious about your wellness program and this alone can increase employee engagement. This will force employees to take the wellness program seriously too.

Your wellness program wellness committee will also helps you boost employee morale. While your wellness committee is focused on administration and management, you still need to give employees a voice. In fact, you should go a step further and you should be implementing ideas that your employees recommend.

Your wellness committee should be focused on building engagement and participation throughout the program, top to bottom. Your wellness committee should be open, an arm of communication for employees and leadership.

Wellness program coordinators and wellness program managers can make an big impact on your wellness program if they have the support they need to succeed.

(7) Support Company Wide

If leadership doesn’t take the employee wellness program serious, it will likely fail. If leadership doesn’t get involved with the wellness program, it will likely fail. Leadership has to be involved to get to the finish line.

If you want to boost wellness program engagement, leadership needs to set the example. Leadership should lead by example, practice what you preach. 

If leadership and management is focused on their health, employees will pay attention. You have to lead by example because if you don’t, employees are going to find out. You can’t preach for them to focus on health when you’re not doing it yourself. 

(8) Wellness Program Engagement (What It Should Look Like)

Here at Kadalyst, we’ve been using these same core pillars to build wellness program engagement. While biometric screenings are great, health assessments are great, it’s not enough to get your employees to participate. You must get your employees to adopt healthy behaviors and maintain a healthy living to have a successful program.

If you can follow the steps listed in this guide, it’s going to give you the opportunity to build employee engagement and positively impact the health of your employees. Many of your employees will transition from engagement to changing behaviors. Imagine what this can do for your company culture…. that’s why we love what we do.

We know building employee engagement can be tough, even with the roadmap in front of you. If you’re struggling to build wellness program engagement, we can help. We’d love to show you the inside of Kadalyst and all the advantages you can gain to get your employees healthy and lower healthcare costs. 

You can reach us at 503-512-5175 or by using our contact form.

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