How to boost participation in your wellness program

Wellness programs benefit the participant and the employerby Larry Triplett

Smart businesses are introducing wellness programs for their employees. The benefits go both directions! Healthier employees result in reduced health insurance premiums, due to fewer claims being filed. The differences may not be seen overnight, but come renewal time, the payoff will be there. But apart from this, healthier employees are more productive. They feel better, have fewer absences, and on average, are happier. What’s not to like about that?

Participation, of course, is the big challenge. Just like those New Year’s Resolutions that get forgotten come February, the resolve to focus on health tends to weaken pretty quickly. Here are some thoughts on boosting participation.

First, make sure that you create and maintain awareness. A good wellness program should have a theme, and a distinctive graphical appearance tied to that theme. Just like the company brand, the program brand should be distinctive and recognizable. Repetition is one of the tools to build that identity. Put that brand on promotional products that will be a constant reminder. Consider a monthly or quarterly promotion featuring a wellness item.

Second, encourage healthy habits and reinforce the key principles of a healthy lifestyle. Signs near the elevators encouraging people to take the stairs can be effective, especially when peer pressure kicks in. Branded water bottles can be good reminders to drink more water. Calendars with wellness tips will be seen on a daily basis.

Third, utilize incentives to build participation rates. Set goals and milestones, and offer prizes for achieving them. When employees see others winning these, it could be just the impetus they need to get on board as well. Of course, the prizes should be branded with the image of the campaign.

So what are the best promotional products for wellness programs? Actually, we get that question a lot. There are no firm answers. Our most important guideline is that they should be visible and integrated into the daily routine of the participants. Beyond that, we don’t start with a list of typical products. As always, we start with learning more about the program, and go from there. If your goals are well-defined, we’ll find the right tools to get you there.

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