10 reasons employees hate wellness programs
Employers spend a ton of money on wellness, yet many programs fail to engage employees over the long term. Emily Noll, national director of wellness with CBIZ Benefits and Insurance Services, Inc. shares 10 reasons employees don’t like wellness programs.

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1. My Job is killing me.
Many employees already feel their job is a detriment to their health, which makes it harder to swallow a corporate wellness message, especially if the employer is asking for their employees to better manage their own health to reduce company costs.

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2. My manager doesn’t get it.
One of the biggest drivers of engagement is the relationship between an employee and their boss. Unfortunately, many employees say that their boss is the last person on earth they want to spend time with. A manager can be instrumental in well-being conversations with their reports, but it will fall on deaf ears if there is not mutual respect and trust.

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3. This program doesn’t help me.
The most common “wellness” activities and rewards being offered by employers are fairly narrowly focused and often not relevant to employees’ well-being priorities. Wellness programs, just like people, need to be multi-dimensional. As well, employers should work with wellness vendors who can tailor content and activities to each person’s needs. The industry is moving away toward forcing people down a common path, particularly when it comes to screenings.

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4. This program isn’t fun.
Most employees would rather go to a happy hour with their colleagues than a biometric screening, right? Leverage the power of social groups and social media to add a dose of fun to clinical wellness activities. At your flu clinic, set up a basketball hoop and invite employees to “take a shot” for better health. For every basket made, the company adds a dollar to the participation raffle or donates to a charity. Don’t just ask employees to exercise three times a week, but also invite them to post a picture of them doing it, a.k.a. “Healthy Selfie.”

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Closeup of joggers feet while in action and running
5. I don’t want to do this alone.
Most employee need a friend at work ready to go the extra mile with them. And sometimes they even need a mentor or coach to encourage them. Allow employees to partner up and work on their goals together.

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6. I want to do wellness my way.
Employees want to do wellness their own way rather than have it “prescribed” to them. Employees appreciate tools (especially at no cost to them), but not everyone wants to be forced to call a health coach. It’s best when employers can set parameters and recommend evidence-based programs, but ultimately give employees autonomy in how to go about achieving their goals.

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7. If there isn’t an app for it, forget it.
There are some really great online wellness platforms, but mobile capabilities are lagging behind. Fewer and fewer people want to log into a website. People are on the go and need solutions to meet them where they are.

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8. I’m concerned about my privacy.
Much of an employee’s distrust in wellness programs stems from poor work relationships and terrible communications. It’s human nature to question the motivation behind the person and the message. It’s critical to be both genuine and transparent when you are asking employees to participate in programs that involve disclosure of their health information.

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9. It feels more of a hassle than a help.
If the wellness program manages to be relevant, that’s great, but if it’s still a hassle to participate, people will be turned off. Employees not only need programs that fit into their work/life but also processes that are efficient and smooth. The more steps, forms and websites an employee has to go to, the less likely they are to do it.

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10. I care about our community more than our health claims.
The workplace “community” is an often overlooked area addressed in wellness programs. An individual may be able to make changes to their own health and reduce associated costs, but we are all connected, and many employees want to make an impact on their workplace community. Invite employees to make your workplace better, more vibrant and a place where everyone can thrive. This might be as simple as creating a workplace garden or asking each work team to design one wellness project a year.

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