How to increase employee engagement with corporate wellness programs

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In order to retain talent and create healthy work cultures, more and more employers are investing in their employees’ wellbeing.

Over the past year, reports are showing that employers are particularly focused on mental health, stress management and resilience, plus mindfulness and meditation. The more innovative organizations are going a step further.

Beyond mental health programs or fitness-related offerings, some companies are looking to support holistic health by adding support for financial, social, and emotional wellbeing too.

But it isn’t enough to simply offer a wellness program or launch a health initiative, you have to build a support system to increase enrollment and ongoing engagement. A wellness committee, filled with internal wellness champions, is one of the most effective ways to increase internal buy-in and increase employee engagement.

As part of our ongoing leadership series, we chatted with Dr. Tanea Robinson, EdD. Dr. Robinson is trained in trauma-informed care and has extensive experience leading wellness committees and developing strategies to address short- and long-term needs.

Given her extensive experience leading wellness programs and initiatives, Dr. Robinson shares helpful tips to help improve engagement with corporate wellness initiatives. Let’s dive in.

How to increase employee engagement with corporate wellness programs

Survey your staff. It is sometimes easy to forget but if you are offering programs to support your employees, ask for their feedback. This helps you save time from offering what they aren’t interested in and will help increase engagement when you deliver on what they’ve indicated is important.

Try survey tools, create a Google form, or hire an outside consultant to help conduct surveys. Consider asking for opinions throughout the year, pre- and post-events, and to better understand their needs in different seasons.

Provide incentives or rewards for participation. When possible, offer family fun days, send out gift-cards, have leadership send a personalized video praising someone for progress, or set up a points system to reward engagement. There are some great tools out there or sometimes, a vendor will even help provide that for you.

Offer a variety of events. This is especially important if you have a hybrid team. Make sure to offer both in-person and online options. Consider offering events that support numerous areas of wellness too. Try guided meditations, virtual paint nights, walk challenges, social events (i.e. game nights), workshops, and more.

You could even provide a list of resources for employees to reference and engage with on their own time if they don’t want to join in the corporate-sponsored offerings. Offering multiple types of events, will help you engage more of your employees.

Include wellness in day-to-day activities. Make engaging in your wellness programs integrated into your work culture by including a wellness activity in your meetings. You could do a quick stretch class at the start or allow everyone to do a few moments of meditation before rushing off to the next task.

If you can think of fun and natural ways to include wellness into what you and your employees are already doing, it will be easier for people to adopt the method and try it out for themselves.

Get leadership buy-in. Make sure that your leadership supports the wellness initiatives, model engagement for employees, and approve that your staff can take worktime to engage with the wellness programs you offer. Even if you offer a comprehensive wellness solution, if leadership doesn’t support it, you may find limited success.

Send a wellness newsletter. This is a great activity for a wellness committee to run with. If perhaps a formal newsletter that highlights tips on healthy living and keeps folks connected is not feasible now, consider creating a Slack or Teams channel. Having a space where employees can share ideas, recipes, and encouragement can make a big difference in engagement.

Create a wellness portal. It is easy to lose a link or forget you have access to a wellness resource if it doesn’t stay front and center. By creating a centralized location, like a portal, to house tips, upcoming events, past newsletters, a calendar of activities, and resources you make it easier on your employees. They only have to remember one place to look. Which means they might look more often.

As you build out your wellness programs, you can also provide stats on winners from recent competitions, collect suggestions for future activities, and track all available resources. A single location will allow your employees to explore at their own pace and choose how they want to engage.

Focus on the end goal

Whether you are just looking to start a wellness program, or you’ve had one in place for years, these tips can help you increase employee engagement.

Consider which of these suggestions you could implement in the next few months to determine its effectiveness. But with any attempts, make sure to keep focused on the end goal: helping your employees thrive with the health and wellbeing support they need.

If you’d like support to engage your employees and help them thrive, Burnalong is here to help. From challenges, to building out wellness committees, to diverse classes, they are here to support employee wellness journeys across the globe.

About the author:

Dr. Tanea Robinson has a Doctor of Education Degree (EdD) in Educational Leadership. Dr. Robinson has over 10-year experience working with nonprofits and has led a Wellness Committee (the agency was a finalist for a Global Workplace Wellness Award).  Dr. Robinson has experience collaborating with individuals from various backgrounds and developing strategies that address both short-term and long-term needs. Dr. Robinson is trained in trauma informed care, cultural competency, motivational interviewing, reflective supervision and experience collaborating with community organizations.

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