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Workers need more information about wellness programs

Wellness programs are helping organizations improve the health and productivity of their workers. These employee incentive programs have been shown to boost worker engagement levels, while allowing firms to lower their health insurance costs.

Wellness programs are helping organizations improve the health and productivity of their workers. These employee incentive programs have been shown to boost worker engagement levels, while allowing firms to lower their health insurance costs. However, a new white paper by Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company found that most employees lack essential understanding about how corporate wellness programs work and what benefits they offer. A survey by Colonial Life found that 52 percent of workers stated they were only somewhat or not at all knowledgeable about the wellness programs offered by their companies.

"Just offering a wellness program and expecting a majority of employees to participate—the 'if you build it, they will come' scenario—is prone to failure," said Steve Bygott, assistant vice president of marketing analysis and programs at Colonial Life. "Communication that clearly delineates the benefits of participation to employees is the first step to long-term engagement in wellness programs."

The source notes that when workers know about the programs, they participate. One survey found that 78 percent of employees participate in physical activities and 69 percent enjoy nutrition programs and health club memberships that are part of corporate wellness programs if they have been properly informed of the campaigns. This highlights the need for organizations to educate their workers about all of the benefits available to them.

Communicating clearly with employees
In many cases, technology can help spread the word of these initiatives. The Calgary Herald reports that there are a number of social media apps designed to create group interactions for fitness programs. These networks provide encouragement, feedback and support on a broad scale, helping individuals achieve personal goals, and can be used to spread information about how to participate.

Creating networks dedicated to spreading awareness and excitement about group workouts, health risk assessment tests or nutrition programs could help build a corporate culture focused on improving the overall health of each worker.  All social forums should be supported by administrators prepared to answer questions or provide needed information to workers. These communications would work best if they are directed to a knowledgeable individual. Ninety-six percent of employees who received one-to-one communications understood their benefits packages better, according to the white paper.

Wellness programs allow organizations to reduce healthcare costs, while providing a more engaging work environment for their employees. Employee incentive programs create additional excitement about the initiatives by offering motivation for losing weight, quitting smoking or achieving other health-related objectives. Despite the potential to see significant benefits, many of these campaigns fail because workers are not properly informed. Using social media, email and even direct communication channels can drive participation and help firms deliver results.

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