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4 Reasons Employees Don’t Participate in Wellness Initiatives

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While employers may offer comprehensive wellness benefits and exciting workplace initiatives, they may still fail to garner employee participation in programming.  

Nevertheless, administrators can consider what their staff wants from employee health programs— value, support, awareness/accessibility, and proper motivators—then identify strategies to incorporate these points.  

1) Value

When its wellness programs fail to attract and retain participants, the host organization must examine what its employees value. After all, valuable initiatives will be the ones that support a workforce’s needs, interests, and growth.  

Administrators can use organization-wide assessments to identify employees’ wishes for wellness programs 

Such materials need not come from scratch: the CDC offers assessment guidelines and tips for free.  

Organizations can then structure programs with initiatives that respond to employees’ requests. Such programs should include a full range of considerations, including initiatives that improve participants’ mental, physical, and emotional well-being. 

Moreover, employers should provide personalized wellness programs that fit participants’ needs. Individuals have unique interests that require tailoring. Leaders can customize programs with fresh features, including the latest fitness classes or in-office mental wellness challenges. 

2) Support

Employees may also refrain from participating in a wellness program if it lacks cultural support. Workplace culture can determine a wellness program’s success by supporting or discouraging behaviors.  

For example, a wellness initiative built around daily wellness breaks that lacks support from organizational leadership is unlikely to succeed.  

Leaders on every level set the tone for a workplace.  

Managers can cultivate a supportive culture by building connections and accountability with employees. They can also lead by example when they participate in initiatives themselves. Employees may likewise engage if they have special needs for which they receive accommodation. 

Employees can support and encourage one another as well. They invest in wellness programs when they participate with people who have similar goals. Your organization can foster this sense of community by providing a platform for employees to communicate and share their challenges and successes.  

3) Awareness/Accessibility

Despite the time and effort that organizational leaders and administrators may invest in them, wellness initiatives cannot succeed without employee awareness. Indeed, many staff members may have an interest in joining such a program yet remain unaware that their company has one or how to get involved. 

To combat these issues, employers can create a workplace wellness committee responsible for promotion. The wellness committee should develop promotional strategies that clarify how employees can sign up and explore opportunities.  

Additionally, administrators can designate representatives to lead initiatives.  

For example, an employee interested in nutrition can lead a diet challenge. Representatives can work with specialists—in this case, a dietitian—to mentor them with professional insights. Representatives act as wellness champions, spotlighting their initiatives and lending credibility to the program. 

Organizations can also improve accessibility by providing a smartphone app that furnishes program information, including a complete list of initiatives and a schedule of events. Finally, medical resources should align with employees’ comprehensive wellness plans, such as preventative and diagnostic care. 

4) Intrinsic Motivators

Even a valuable, culturally-supported, and accessible wellness program must leverage motivators to earn long-term employee engagement. Participants need a straightforward reason for participating in a program that can consistently meet their needs with challenging opportunities. 

Therefore, while employers create organizational goals for their initiatives, they should allow individuals to set personal objectives. Specifically, organizations should incorporate intrinsic motivators, which reward participants through internal satisfaction rather than external prizes. 

Typical forms of intrinsic motivators include charitable donations, completing a fitness challenge, collaborating with coworkers on community service projects, and participating in friendly competitions.  

Employers can also feature employee achievements on a leaderboard as motivation and recognition. A fully automated app can help employees log/sync their wellness goal progress and remain connected with their coworkers. 

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On a Final Note 

Workplace wellness apps boost participation in employee health programs by increasing staff awareness of wellness opportunities, simplifying the sign-up process, tracking individual and group progress, and supporting employees in their wellness goals.  

By choosing a platform with complete functionality, your workplace can also spur employee involvement with one-tap onboarding and automated push notifications to make it enticing for employees to participate in wellness programs. 

Written by Shanice Morris-Sharpe
Written by Shanice Morris-Sharpe

Shanice Morris-Sharpe is an Implementation Project Manager for Givhero. A Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) with a Master of Social Work degree and a Bachelor's degree in Community Health, Shanice's expertise blends principles from the fields of public health and mental health. She has provided mental health and wellness support through services and education to children, families, and adults for over a decade. Her most recent experiences have included serving as a clinician in hospital, outpatient mental health, public school, and alternative school settings.