We previously covered the reasons to create a Culture of Wellness to help infuse your organization with a focus on wellness in our previous post.

Before implementing and launching an employee wellness program, you need to plan an effective wellness program that meets your employees’ unique needs and your organization's goals.

As a refresher: these are the 5 steps to planning a successful employee wellness program (covered in-depth here):

  1. Review your specific needs as a workplace, and your unique corporate structure and employee demographics. 
  2. Identify your central goals: education, community building, or habit building (or some combination of all three). 
  3. Create a budget, but remember that a good wellness program is an investment—on average, employees who succeed in wellness programs provide employers with $353 in savings from improved productivity. 
  4. Survey your employees to determine what they want out of a wellness program.Taking employee feedback into account can help you avoid things that lead to non-participation. 
  5. Make a list to help you prioritize what you need most, and things you want but are not necessarily essential in your wellness program. 

The 3 Steps to Successfully Launching a Corporate Wellness Program at Any Organization

Implementing and launching a wellness program doesn't have to be a long, drawn out process. The most successful wellness programs get buy-in from their employees and other parts of the organization before launch. This helps set up success for many different initiatives as awareness is one of the biggest challenges a new wellness program faces. 

One of the biggest hurdles facing new wellness programs is a lack of awareness and effective communication leading up to the launch and in the following months. In a Harvard Business Review survey, 6 out of 10 of employees who were not participating in a wellness program said they would be open to participate, but 69% cited a lack of communication or awareness as the primary reason they were not involved (1). 

This makes it critical that any new wellness program initiative take meaningful steps to create awareness and excitement about a new program within an organization even before it launches.

These are the 3 steps that organizations should take to launch their corporate health and wellness program successfully and communicate to their employees from the very start.

Step 1. Brand Your Wellness Program

Branding a wellness program is similar to branding any other product: it requires an understanding of your target audience and involves thinking about what will get people interested and excited. Don’t be afraid to consult your marketing department or look at other brands you admire for inspiration - just because a wellness program is an employee benefit doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting and exciting to your employees.

As with any marketing campaign, your wellness program should cultivate a strong visual identity that is instantly recognizable when your employees see communications about it during and after launch. Doing this successfully means your employees will immediately understand where a communication is coming from: this can be accomplished through any of the following:

  • A unique wellness program name
  • A distinct and colorful logo
  • A centralized location or hub

A great example of branding a wellness program comes from consumer product giant Proctor & Gamble. When they rebranded their corporate wellness program, they designed a bright orange logo and named it the ‘Vibrant Living’ program.

Step 2. Discuss the Bigger Picture With Your Wellness Provider

Working with a wellness provider is a partnership: the more you include them in your planning the more successful your launch. Discuss your goals and your vision while setting up your corporate wellness program to give them the bigger picture of who you are as a company and how you hope to benefit employees. 

The right wellness program provider will want to be integrally involved in helping you launch, communicate, and encourage participation in your program (rather than just passively selling a service to you). Here at BurnAlong, our Customer Success team helps clients launch their wellness programs with hands-on support based on our experience launching clients across locations with thousands of employees with unique and diverse needs. 

Step 3. Create a Communications Plan  

For many employees, the biggest obstacle in corporate wellness program participation is simply knowing it exists. In a 2014 Gallup study only 60% of employees were aware of corporate wellness programs, and only 40% of those were participating actively in the program (2). That means on average only 24% of your total employees are taking advantage of corporate wellness perks. With effective wellness communication to employees in place, you can far exceed this average.

Before you launch any new program, it’s critical to have a structured communications plan with multiple touch points to engage your employees. It’s not enough to hand out a flier with an orientation packet, have a single kickoff event, or send out an email once a year to let people know they can enroll. It should be a concerted effort across the organization to communicate with every employee multiple times each year through various channels—emails, fliers, in-person or virtual meetings, social media, events, and more. 

Though Open Enrollment only happens once a year, it takes consistent messaging to get your employees to take advantage of their wellness benefits. As with any effective marketing message, repetition is the key to employees understanding and engaging in corporate wellness - the “Rule of 7” says consumers need to hear a message 7 times before they will take action. Recruit your marketing or internal communications team to help with this effort to ensure your employees are not only aware of the program, but are also excited about it.

Are You Ready to Successfully Launch Your Corporate Wellness Program? 

We have put together a Definitive Guide to Implementing and Launching a Wellness Program for HR leaders to maximize awareness and participation within their organization. Get your free copy of the definitive guide here.