The State of Affairs with Corporate Wellness Programs

 In Blog, Human Resources

Your people are your corporate competitive advantage.

Most progressive leaders are actively investing in employee wellness. Unfortunately, despite the amount of work that goes into implementing on-site and digital wellness programs, most corporate initiatives fail to engage 3 out of 4 employees.

Let’s spend a little time dissecting what is happening and offer some food for thought.

The Gallup 2014 RAND Health Workplace Wellness Study has shown that when companies offer wellness programs, only 24% of employees actually participate.

We surveyed 200 professional services employees in 2015. There were many reasons why they didn’t participate in the 5K runs, yoga classes, and other wellness initiatives.

The top 6 themes were:

  • Not aware of the program.
  • Lack of incentives to sign up.
  • Activities offered were not interesting.
  • Didn’t have time.
  • Didn’t know how to access the program.
  • No one else was doing the program (lack of a wellness community).

According to the RAND study, more than 85% of companies offer some form of wellness program, with awareness levels sitting at less than 60% of employees. Only 40% of the employees who are aware of these programs actually sign up, and of those, 30-40% ultimately do not attend because of conflicts with work priorities.

With another 10-40% simply forgetting due to a lack of awareness generated from the wellness champions, it is no surprise that companies with 200-1000 employees can’t get more than 50 people to any wellness event.

Health costs are rising. With mental health and financial wellness training sessions becoming more commonplace, it’s time that you drive a paradigm shift in how you engage your employees in health and wellness.

3 Tips to Improve Wellness in Your Organization

1. Build Momentum

Before launching or updating your wellness program this year, ensure that you take the opportunity to build awareness with your employee base.

Reach out to employees a couple of weeks prior to the launch date with on-site posters, email memos, newsletters and on-site media outlets. A message, short video or presentation from your CEO, senior leadership or HR team supporting the program is always a positive PR move, both internally and externally.

Remember to always add a call-to-action to each piece of your awareness campaign.

2. Make it Universal

Deliver wellness to your employees wherever they are. Design your program with context and environment in mind.

Leverage common technology that they are already using, such as their mobile phone or computer. Provide practical activities that employees can fit into their 9-to-5, such as reminders to grab a drink of water, instructions for quick back stretches, and challenges to meditate for 60 seconds. These effective “micro-actions” are known to boost health and productivity, and can engage even the most sedentary of office-potatoes.

3. Recognize Your Employees’ Individual Efforts

The majority of your employee base is likely already using consumer health apps and wearable devices for activity tracking such as step counting, exercise logging, or nutrition journaling. Why not align your employees’ individual efforts to your organizational goals?

If a Fitbit is too restrictive in function or too expensive, Optimity offers a great array of Fitbit alternatives such as Apple Watches with more functionality and directly integrated with calendars, or Optimity Mi Bands that are just $30/band and have a 30-day battery life until the next recharge.

You can recognize the activities your employees are already doing using your wellness platform’s points and prizes. We can connect your community by uniting your team onto the same platform and gamifying their work experience.

Companies that employ this strategy have 2-5x more people participate in their programs!


About Optimity

Optimity is a digital wellness company that provides a holistic, proactive wellness platform that uses mobile apps, wearables and web portal to coach employees on healthy habits and reduce the risk of chronic disease in the workplace. Optimity’s “Dooo Wellness” platform has won several awards in 2015: Top 4 health tech innovation at the World Cup tech challenge in Silicon Valley and People’s Choice at MaRS Upstart Competition.

Start your proactive wellness culture for your organization in just 30 minutes. Get a free trial and engage: engage@myoptimity.com

About the Author

Jane Wang co-founded Optimity following a career in health-data analytics across hospitals, pharmaceutical & healthcare consulting. She is passionate about innovation and preventative care. The Optimity team specializes in health management, habit coaching and behaviour change using technology to foster strong organizational cultures, driving productivity and reducing health-related business costs.

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