You’ve decided to incorporate a company-wide wellness program, and you can’t wait to start. You’re ready to join your employees in getting healthier than ever before, your CFO is thrilled that you’ll be saving money on healthcare, and your CEO is happy that absenteeism will be reduced. You’ve only forgotten one important step: locking down employee buy-in.
If your employees don’t exhibit an overwhelming buy-in for your wellness program, you’ve got a big problem. Read on to learn more about why buy-in is crucial for the success of your wellness program, how to achieve that buy-in, and how your whole organization will benefit once buy-in succeeds.
Why You Need Employee Buy-In
Bottom line: if you want your wellness program to thrive, you’re going to need the support and active participation of the majority of the employees in your organization.
If you’ve got the executives on your side, that will only get you so far— you need to work to get the members of middle-management as well as employees on every other tier to not just participate, but to believe that this program is truly beneficial to their health and wellness. How do you accomplish that? Let’s look at some options.
How to Achieve Overwhelming Employee Buy-In
You understand that buy-in is a must, but how do you get it?
- Adopt Personalization— No wellness program, no matter how well-designed it is, will precisely suit every employee in your organization. With this in mind, it’s important that you leave some space for personalization. While you’re creating your wellness program, take a look at your organization’s own specific health issues. Do you have a high number of sick days, or an unusually high number of people struggling with obesity? Is high blood pressure a major epidemic? Do you have a number of smokers? Find the traits that are most commonly found in your business, and address them.
- Embrace Technology— The increasing popularity of fitness technology can be harnessed to help your wellness program gain traction among your employees. You can pass out Fitbits or other activity trackers to help employees collect their wellness data; from there, you can have fun contests or offer incentives for achieving particular goals. People love toys, and a fitness tracker is fun!
- Engage Middle-Management— While you might have all of higher-level management on board, it’s a little more difficult to sell the idea to middle-management. Unfortunately, they’re the ones you really need on your side. It’s estimated that these in-the-trenches managers account for a minimum of 70% of variance in employee engagement— if they’re not on board, you’re sunk.
Emphasize the improvement in productivity that accompanies a wellness program as well as the importance of their participation. When workers see that their immediate supervisor isn’t engaging with the program, they’re far less likely to buy in. Offer managers some ownership over the program, enabling them to tailor the program to their team. This will make the all-important personalization easier, and help managers feel more involved, ensuring participation.
- Incentivization— Whether you offer prizes or cash, incentivization is always a great way to ensure participation. The carrot is always more effective than the stick, and offering employees attractive incentives is more successful than penalizing them for failure to participate. Some organizations offer bonuses for meeting goals, others give participants discounts on their insurance coverage, but the sky’s the limit when it comes to offering incentives for participating in a wellness program. Determine what you feel would be most attractive to your workforce, and offer it up immediately.
What Can a Successful Buy-In Achieve for Your Company?
Not only will buy-in ensure the success of your wellness program, but it will have a number of additional benefits to your organization and your employees. For one thing, employee retention increases. Voluntary attrition rates dropped from 15% to 9% among companies with highly-effective wellness programs, lending some credence to the theory that people who exercise regularly are generally more positive.
Of course, another aspect of a wellness program is disease management. If your employees are screened for potential health risks such as high cholesterol, mental health, glucose levels, or high blood pressure, not to mention routine cancer screenings, it’s far more likely that these diseases can be treated before they blossom into something potentially life-threatening. Smoking-cessation and stress and depression management are another valuable aspect of a well-designed wellness program with major benefits for both employees and the organization itself.
Costs of insurance are lower for healthy employees, not to mention the increase in energy and productivity that regular exercise brings. (In fact, the average ROI for wellness programs has been shown to be 3:1— not too shabby!) These will not just benefit your bottom line, but also improve the quality and quantity of work that’s accomplished during the day. Healthy workers are happy workers, and when your employees have wellness program that’s focused specifically on their particular health issues, it leaves them with the impression that they’re a valued and important part of the organization.