Five Myths about Wellness Program Outcomes
Is your organization considering adopting a new employee wellness program or enhancing your existing one? Are you concerned because you hear so many differing ideas about what works and what doesn’t? Just as there is no single perfect eating plan or exercise program, there is no single perfect employee wellness program. In addition, the reasons employers begin programs and how they evaluate them differ so much that it is difficult to determine what is and isn’t working, and what an employer should or should not do to implement an effective and strategic well-being approach for their organization. For these reasons, there are many myths surrounding wellness programs. Let’s review some of the more common myths so you can dive into helping your employees get and stay well.
1. The wellness program is going to cost more than it’s worth
Prioritizing employee health and well-being pays off. Wellness programs have been proven to save organizations money, but not overnight and especially not without a strategic approach to the program. Research shows that a return on investment (ROI) can be a long-term benefit (3-5 years) of a strategic wellness program when senior management support, strong communications, and alignment between employee and employer goals exist. In addition, other forms of ROI, sometimes called VOI (or value on investment), can result from a wellness program and benefit your organization. These include improved employee retention and talent recruitment, and improved company culture. To achieve a true return on investment, it is important to first answer the question “why are we investing in a wellness program?” and then design a program to help you achieve those goals.
2. A wellness program will invade my company culture and feel too forced Outcomes-based wellness programs are not the only types of programs you can offer to your employees. Your organization can start with a “feel good” wellness program, which focuses on fun challenges or educational topics to help your employees adopt and sustain healthy habits while also boosting morale. Over time, once your employees trust the concept of the wellness program (and your wellness partner), your program can evolve to a more outcomes-focused program where you are actively tracking biometric measurements and aiming to reduce health risks and costs for your population.
3. A wellness program should be centered around weight loss
Although weight loss is a natural target for many employees (overweight and obesity affect 65% of the US population ), a focus on weight loss won’t necessarily bring about the message or results you seek. Wellness programs should be multi-pillared and cover nutrition, sleep, stress, physical activity, financial wellness, and more. Focusing on promoting healthy behaviors will result in healthier employees which will mean employees better manage their stress, sleep, and weight, as a result. Botton line: your wellness program should not have a “one-size-fits-all” approach, but instead should be designed and adapted based on continuous assessment, strategy, implementation, and evaluation of employee needs.
4. Employees need financial incentives to participate Are your employees participating in your wellness program solely to earn an incentive or check a box? This may be a sign that your employees are not truly engaged in the program. Extrinsic motivation such as cash or prize incentives are used initially to drive the development of intrinsic motivation, which occurs as employees learn to see value in their well-being. When your employees truly enjoy the benefits of wellness, financial incentives will become less and less important.
5. Lunch-and-learns and education sessions are all the program can offer Lunch-and-learns are not a thing of the past. However, wellness programs are much more complex than simply a fitness seminar or lunch-and-learn. Even before workplaces became largely virtual due to the pandemic, effective wellness programs included a variety of programming such as professional health coaching, team fitness challenges, and intensive behavior-change programs in addition to events like cooking demos, gardening workshops, and meditation and mindfulness classes. In order to avoid a cookie-cutter wellness program, be sure to assess the population’s needs and interests in order to drive a curated strategy that will produce results. At Wellness Workdays, our award-winning strategic approach, nutrition focus, and hands-on process ensure success. Wellness Workdays develops and implements wellness programs for organizations across the country in all major industries. Contact us to learn more.