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How to Design a Corporate Wellness Plan That Actually Works

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This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by Harvard Business Review and discusses why so many corporate wellness programs fail, and explains how to create ones that stick.

There is a lot of discussion around “wellness programs,” also known as workplace health promotion programs and their effectiveness. A wellness program, like any other company-wide initiative, can only be successful if it is designed and executed properly.

Many times, organizations try to pass off a single effort or one-time event as a complete wellness program – these are destined for failure. Employees need follow-up and structure to continue making smart decisions about their health.

To figure out what is working, and what isn’t, HBR prepared a report, “From Evidence to Practice: Workplace Wellness that Works.” Hector De La Torre and Ron Goetzel, Ph.D., Harvard Business Review, identified certain trends that led to successful and failed programs.

Per Torre and Goetzel, a few of the failed tactics include:

    • Paying people to change their habits. While financial incentives may help in the short-term, they do not drive real behavioral changes in the long-term, thus limiting their impact.

    • Administering health risk assessments only. Although asking employees questions and analyzing risk through assessments is part of a larger strategy, oftentimes organizations will not provide the tools and resources employees need to make the necessary changes in their lives.

On the opposite spectrum, some strategies that moved the needle included:

    • Leadership commitment and buy-in. Like any company initiative, getting support from company leaders is instrumental to success. Leaders with successful programs have managed to integrate health initiatives into the vision and purpose of the company.

    • Asking for help. Empowering employees and helping them shape the vision for the program is a great way to gain buy-in. Conduct surveys and ask questions about what is working and what isn’t. When employees feel ownership of the program, and understand the benefits to the company, they are more likely to engage.

These are some tips to help get your wellness program headed in the right direction. Now, it is up to you to lead the way.  

To learn other tips for wellness programs, read the article.


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