Design a wellness program

Step 3: Engage employees with programming

Mature man with co-workersAfter ironing out the details of your wellness program – including the committee, goals, strategies and communication plan – it’s time to get your employees excited.

Create an incentive strategy

Sponsoring a wellness program is useless if nobody participates. Incentives can help boost participation and encourage employees to stay committed to the program. Finding the right incentive can also help yield desired results.

Popular incentives include:

  • Merchandise (e.g. T-shirts, hats, water bottles)
  • Cash
  • Additional paid time off
  • Gift cards
  • Health insurance premium discounts

Offer incentives for a variety of actions such as:

  • Registering for your program
  • Completing a personal health assessment or biometric screening
  • Sticking with a healthy habit for an extended period of time
  • Finishing the program
  • Winning a challenge

Follow these guidelines when creating an incentive strategy:

  • Pick highly valued rewards that will motivate employees
  • Conditions for earning the reward must be feasible
  • Offering multiple rewards is better than having only one option

Announce the program

Give employees a chance to learn about the wellness program before it officially starts. A best practice for increasing engagement is to have a chief executive or top leader promote the program and participate alongside employees.

Well in advance of the launch date, announce the program at a staff meeting or through email. Consider including the following information:

  • Program topic
  • How employees will benefit
  • How employees can participate
  • Incentives
  • Deadlines
  • Contact information
  • Resources for more information

Here's a sample announcement:

Get ready to jump-start your fitness routine! Join us as we begin our journey toward better health with our first workplace wellness program, the Step it Up Walking Challenge. The challenge begins September 1 and runs through October 15. Sign up in the break room. Have fun and win prizes for stepping up to the challenge.

Host a kick-off event

Once you've unveiled your wellness program, hold a kick-off event to drum up excitement and awareness. Whether your kick-off coincides with a staff meeting or a social event like a potluck, remember the goal is to get employees interested in the program – and their health.

Sustain enthusiasm

After you launch the program, it's likely that some employees will forget about it. Keep the campaign fresh in everyone’s mind by continuing to communicate about it.

Maintain awareness through a variety of ways including:

  • Meeting announcements  
  • Posters and fliers
  • Email reminders when activities or deadlines are approaching

Consistency helps keep employees coming back for more. For instance, scheduling a walking club every Wednesday during lunch makes it easy for everyone to plan ahead and build wellness into their schedules.

To add some panache, brand your program. Doing so will command a larger presence and increase recognition. Branding your program also shows employees that workforce wellness is here to stay, which may influence their decision to participate.

After the program is up and running, evaluate it and make improvements. 

Step 4: Assess your wellness campaign ›