More and more employers are accepting the concept of offering employees options for improved health and wellness. Their main goals for this are simple: to improve the health of employees, to lower the cost of health care, and to increase productivity.

While the concept is well-intentioned, the challenge with this often comes with the employees being willing to make actual lifestyle changes. Making a wellness program work is all about decreasing barriers to its success, one of which is usually motivation and participation by employees.

Here are four ways to help drive participation in wellness initiatives:

1. Make it easy.

  1. Any tools offered to employees should be simple to use and easy to interrelate into their daily activities. There are several apps for use on smartphones that will help employees to track exercise, diet and other activities to help manage their health and wellness.
  2. Any educational tips should be kept short and direct. Consider creating or subscribing to a short wellness communication that provides tips and education on various wellness issues, or provide links to resources on a particular topic. “Quick reads” are usually ideal.
  3. Offer wellness activities which are accessible and comfortable to relatively all employees. As they go on, the programs can become increasingly challenging, to continue to help employees to reach new levels.

2. Bring it on-site.

  1. Organizations are increasingly bringing health and wellness specialists on-site for their employees to access. These specialists include wellness coaches, nutritionists, physical fitness experts, trainers, therapists, wellness experts, acupuncturists and more.
  2. On-site fitness and wellness programs, classes, centers, and facilities are also a core part of bringing wellness to the workplace. Employees are more likely to participate in fitness programs that they can access at lunch, during the workday, and directly after or before work.
  3. Bringing healthy food on-site is another way employers are making healthy habits convenient. Offering free healthy snacks, incentivizing healthy food choices with lower costs in cafeterias, using lunch delivery programs, and replacing vending machine selections with healthier choices, are all common ways employers are providing healthy options on-site.

3. Keep it fun.

  1. Contests: Offer fun rewards and prizes for progress towards health goals, such as gift cards, trips, and entertainment.
  2. Creating fun opportunities for employees: A “recess” in the middle of the workday, pick-up sports or games, special interest groups (i.e. biking, walking, etc.)
  3. By making wellness social, employers find that their staff is more open to being active and has fun doing it. Additionally, these organizations receive an added benefit of improving coworker relationships and teamwork.

4. Integrate the wellness program into work/life.

  1. “Not having the time” is one of the most frequent reasons that employees do not participate in wellness activities. Lack of time is often related to work/life constraints, workload, and other stressors that work/life programs can reduce.
  2. Employees are highly receptive to work/life programs, viewing them as supportive to their needs. Thereby, integrating them with wellness initiatives can be advantageous in motivating participation, reducing stress, and helping employees manage their health in a more holistic sense.