workplace wellness programs - dance class

A lunch-hour exercise program, like this line-dancing class, boosts workplace wellness and engages employees. (Photo by Rob McIlvaine, FMWRC Public Affairs, U.S. Army, via Flickr)

Workplace wellness and employee engagement go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.
Healthy employees are better engaged in their work — and engaged employees are healthier!
Employees who believe their employer cares about their health and well-being are 38 percent more engaged, according to a Quantum Workplace whitepaper, “Workplace Wellbeing: Provide Meaningful Benefits to Energize Employee Health, Engagement and Performance.”
Employees who perceive strong workplace wellness are also ten times less hostile than their less-supported peers, and:

  • 17 percent more likely to be working at their organization in a year
  • 28 percent more likely to recommend their organization
  • 18 percent more likely to go the extra mile for their organization

You can increase the positive influence of your workplace wellness program on employee engagement by learning more about the interconnected dynamics of both.
Read on to find out why even companies that already offer workplace wellness programs are not fully engaging employees with them  — and how you can prevent this at your company.

When Workplace Wellness Programs Fail to Engage

While a good workplace wellness program engages employees, a bad one or a poorly communicated one can have the opposite effect.
It’s like that old question about the tree in the forest making a sound when it falls. Does a workplace wellness program have an impact on employees if they don’t know about it?
A 2012 RAND Health survey of workplace well-being and a subsequent analysis by Gallup found a distressing lack of engagement among wellness programs. Even though 85 percent of U.S. companies offer wellness programs, only 60 percent of employees at these companies are aware of the programs and, even worse, only 40 percent of those aware of the programs actually participate in them.
The bottom line? Just 24 percent of employees at companies that offer wellness programs actually participate in them. This means even otherwise engaged employees are not engaged in their employer wellness program.
Simply “offering a wellness program — no matter how well-intentioned —provides no guarantee of improving employees’ well-being. Workers must be aware the program exists and be persuaded to use it,” Gallup’s Ed O’Boyle and Jim Harter write in their analysis, “Why Your Workplace Wellness Program Isn’t Working.”

The 5 Elements of Well-Being

To fully engage employees in a workplace program, and reap the benefits, employers must think holistically about well-being, according to O’Boyle and Harter. Physical well-being is vital, but there are other types of wellness. O’Boyle and Harter name five major types of well-being:

  1. Purpose Well-being
  2. Social Well-Being
  3. Financial Well-Being
  4. Physical Well-Being
  5. Community Well-Being

When we break down wellness like this, trouble-shooting a wellness program becomes easier.
Even though engagement and wellness are closely connected, engagement alone doesn’t guarantee well-being, O’Boyle and Harter write.

“Though engagement is essential to creating a culture of workplace well-being, it’s not enough on its own to create high well-being in all five elements. […] What’s more, the five well-being elements are interdependent and reinforce one another. When employees are thriving in multiple elements, it becomes easier for them to accomplish things that are in their own best interest, such as maintaining good physical health.”

the Wellness-Engagement Connection

You strengthen your workplace’s wellness-engagement connection when you start a dialogue that involves all employees. What do employees want and need? Are C-suite level leaders not only championing wellness efforts but listening for how to improve?
Don’t let the conversation drop off! The Quantum Workplace whitepaper mentioned earlier stresses how important it is for this dialogue on wellness to lead somewhere and to continue.
“Throw out the cookie-cutter” is one of the more intriguing suggestions in Quantum Workplace’s recommended steps for continuing this wellness dialogue and implementing a successful wellness program. After all, any conversation drops off and loses its engagement when people feel it isn’t unique or relevant to them.
Your company’s conversation about its wellness program should be local, specific and meaningful.
“This is your program,” Quantum Workplace emphasizes. “So design it to feel that way. The look and feel should emulate your brand and vibe. It has to feel like it’s coming from within. Blend the familiar with something new and inspirational, and adoption will happen organically.”
Want to strengthen all five types of well-being in your organization? Foster a more grateful culture. For a comprehensive guide to growing a sustained workplace culture of happiness and appreciation, download our FREE eBook: Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude.
Download your FREE eBook "Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude"

About gThankYou, LLC
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