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It’s no secret that employers today are concerned with their employees’ health. Healthy, happy employees typically generate higher levels of productivity than unhealthy employees, and as a result, more business success. That’s why it’s no surprise that employer wellness programs have become incredibly popular during the last few years. Many employees are reaping the benefits as well.
Despite all the employees currently engaged with employer wellness programs, there are still a significant number of non-participants — nearly 60% — who remain outside of these programs. So what’s holding them back? Inconvenient program options, a non-supportive company culture, and trust and privacy concerns all fall near the top of the list.
So what are employees looking for in an employer wellness program? Here are five things employees want in their employer wellness programs, according to research HealthFitness conducted between 2015 and 2016.
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A more personalized approach
There’s no doubt about it: Technology is one of the hot topics when it comes to employer wellness programs. But, as powerful as technology is, it’s only one piece of the health and wellness puzzle. Personal connections can help. Almost 75% of employees HealthFitness surveyed said “personal touch” was important in their wellness program and can come from knowledgeable experts, such as coaches and specialists, who are credible, engaging, easy to access and provide one-on-one support for their specific needs. Providing in-person expert support can help you deliver a more customized program that connects emotionally with employees, making them feel more empowered to take charge of their health.
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Convenience is paramount when it comes to participation in corporate wellness programs. If employers make it too tough for employees to participate, they’ll bail; rather, if employers strip away all barriers, employees will have a much higher probability of showing up. Many of the employees surveyed said there was one program benefit they’d like to see more employers offer: on-site fitness facilities. Employers who offer that benefit said the facilities help deliver support for the mental, physical and emotional needs that employees rated as top participation drivers in our survey. What’s more, between 40% to 45% of employees with on-site fitness facility access chose to participate in their employer’s wellness program. They also reported the highest satisfaction with on-site facilities largely due to their convenience, inviting environment and low or no membership cost. These facilities also bring together like-minded employees with similar goals that help build a sense of community, which is crucial but currently under-delivered in many wellness programs.
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When it comes to health and wellness programs, motivation is everything. Oftentimes, companies have a tough time determining what motivates employees. Confidence in trained professionals’ support, meaningful advice that suits real life and community with others who have benefitted from program support can motivate employees. Employers should educate more hesitant employees on program effectiveness and use plenty of examples of participants who, as our survey respondents claimed, are “people like me.”
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Mental health support
HealthFitness research showed that employees value mental health support and said it is crucial in their decision to participate. In fact, many of the employees we surveyed said mental health support can be as important, if not more, as support for physical health.
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A supportive company culture
Although culture is discussed quite a bit within the wellness industry, we must remember that actions, more than words, ultimately matter. Employers need to focus efforts on taking action to help cultivate a healthy culture in which wellness programs can thrive. Employees surveyed by HealthFitness said their employer encourages them to be healthy, provides needed resources to be well and allows time during work to participate in program activities. However, these same folks indicated their employer is under-delivering a culture that authentically embraces wellness and is falling short on actively engaging coworkers (peers and management) who want to be more involved in the wellness program.
So, what’s a company to do when it comes to fostering this culture of health? Employees we surveyed said wellness programs should be: · Flexible — allowing employees to participate with ease, wherever and whenever they want. · Community-focused — connecting employees with co-workers and managers who share similar health interests. · Personal — providing meaningful, realistic advice for employees’ specific situations.