Tag Archives: wellness

How to Motivate Employee Participation in Your Wellness Program
5th February 2018 by Fringe Benefits in General

Have you ever heard the quote, “If you take care of your people, they’ll take care of your business?” It’s great advice and goes beyond ensuring that they get a paycheck each month. Does your company show that they care about an employee’s total well-being? You should, especially considering that an employee’s physical and mental well-being can affect productivity and consequently cost the company money. One great way to show employees that you are invested in them, and to help them stay healthy, is through a wellness program.

Once you decide to start a wellness program, there are many things that must be considered, but one of the most important is figuring out how you are going to motivate employees to participate and invest in living a healthy lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at the psychology behind motivation. Behavior can be regulated externally (e.g., gift rewards and punishment) or intrinsically (e.g., internal goals). To motivate your staff, the goal should be to leverage both of these methods to help employees develop healthy behaviors that will last a lifetime so that it essentially becomes second nature to them. That lasting change will be felt throughout your organization for a long time to come. Those that haven’t already incorporated healthy behaviors into their lifestyle will need the extra push, and that’s where an organized wellness program comes in.

Here are different types of incentives that wellness programs typically use to give employees that extra push:

  • Financial (gift card or decreased premium)
  • Social recognition (awards)
  • Surprise incentives (every once in a while, surprise employees with an additional award – the element of fun will help keep employees motivated)

To really create a well-designed wellness program, we suggest incorporating these other tips.


If you want employees to be engaged and motivated, make the wellness program personalized so that it’s fair for all participants. Understand that not all employees are at the same level. It can often be easy to marginalize those who are already doing everything right. Try to find a way to recognize these employees as well. If employees can participate at their own fitness or readiness level, they will be more likely to participate.


At times, lack of participation cannot solely be attributed to an unwilling employee. It’s possible that employees are unaware of, or do not fully understand, the wellness program and the benefits of participation. To ensure a greater level of participation, make sure that you are properly communicating with your employees. According to a recent article in Plan Sponsor, Robert Kennedy, Health and Welfare practice leader with Fidelity’s Benefits Consulting business in Boston, says “incentives will get some employees engaged in the programs, but beyond that, communications play a strong role. Communications should set the context for employees—explaining why the employer is offering the programs and what it hopes to accomplish.” The article goes on to suggest, “frequent, short reminders about how to take advantage of incentives, using a variety of channels—emails, the employer’s intranet site or employee meetings. Short messages should contain a click-through for more detail for those employees who want it.”

Peer pressure

No one wants to be known as the only employee who doesn’t participate. Be careful not to call out any employee, but do get employees talking about the wellness program. In March, one of the ways in which our employees could obtain points toward a wellness credit (which decreased premium costs for those on the health plan) was to motivate other employees to participate. This works out great because most people want to demonstrate that they are a positive influence in the company and participating in activities with coworkers is a great way to do that.

Spread incentives out over time

To assist employees in developing a pattern of healthy behaviors, spread incentives out over time. This way they will be less likely to just take the money and run. Some employees will participate for the incentive, but over time the healthy behaviors will become habit. Some may even realize that they enjoy living a healthy lifestyle more than an unhealthy one as they experience the benefits of living well.

Keep in mind that a wellness program is not one size fits all and, while turnkey programs should be easy to implement, companies should carefully think about their culture and what they want to achieve. People are motivated by different things, so what works for one person in your company may not work for another and what works for your company may not work for other companies.

©Copyright 2018 by Sara Saidi, Marketing Coordinator at The Wilson Agency. A UBA Partner Firm.  Reproduction permitted with attribution to the author.

Cost Effective Wellness Strategies for Small Business Employers
29th December 2017 by fgsiteadmin in General

Companies like Google®, L.L. Bean®, and Zappos.com® have the ability to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on wellness programs for their employees. They can build state-of-the-art gym facilities, walking trails around the corporate campus, and offer any number of wellness services to benefit their workers, as well as monetary incentives. For the average employer and small business owners, this type of programming is nearly impossible. Small business owners may not have money to spend on these types of wellness programs, but they do recognize the value of investing in the health and wellbeing for their employees. These are shared strategies you can use to offer your employees opportunities to reduce health risks, control health care costs, and improve productivity and overall wellbeing.


For small business owners looking to offer “voluntary” wellness programs on a limited budget, look no further than your employee benefits packages. Most employees do not utilize their benefits to their full potential. Motivating and incentivizing your employees to use the benefits that are already provided can be a great way to launch a wellness program. Insurance carriers provide preventive screening schedules that can be used to guide your employees to seek regular medical check-ups at no cost to them. Utilizing the schedule can help employees take control of their health and potentially prevent catastrophic health events before they occur.

Several carriers offer great discount programs on top national brands to make living a healthy lifestyle more fun and affordable. Discounts include gym memberships, weight loss programs, tobacco cessation resources, gym apparel and equipment, and other fitness and nutrition resources.

Utilizing local and national resources is also a great way to educate employees on good, healthy behaviors at a limited cost. Organizations such as the American Heart Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control offer free, online education resources and information tool kits. Local organizations may have access to grants that can help offset the costs of tobacco cessation and nutrition programming. Local chapters may even offer onsite lunch and learns and be willing to participate in your company health fair.

For additional trends among wellness programs, download In UBA’s new whitepaper: “Wellness Programs — Good for You & Good for Your Organization.”


Small business owners do not have to offer large cash prizes in order to motivate employees to participate in the wellness programming. Setting up challenges where individuals or teams compete to earn a top prize can be a great way to utilize the natural competitive side of your employees while offering a supportive culture.

To understand legal requirements for wellness programs, particularly as it relates to incentives, request UBA’s ACA Advisor, “Understanding Wellness Programs and Their Legal Requirements,” which reviews the five most critical questions that wellness program sponsors should ask and work through to determine the obligations of their wellness program under the ACA, HIPAA, ADA, GINA, and ERISA, as well as considerations for wellness programs that involve tobacco use in any way.

Sample Programming

Begin by offering a thoughtfully created program that recognizes the importance of the work-life balance. For example, create a “passport” to health and wellbeing. We suggest including a few of the following activities:

  • Get an annual physical, dental, and vision exam
  • Take advantage of preventative cancer screenings (skin, colonoscopy, mammogram, etc.)
  • Utilize the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Get a flu shot
  • Complete a biometric screening
  • Complete online health coaching on a health topic through the insurance carrier portal
  • Attend a company lunch and learn on a health related topic
  • Participate in an office health challenge (step, weight loss, etc.)
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Participate in a community walk, run, bike event.

Employees can have their passport stamped as they visit with providers and participate in organizational events. Wellness Committees have found success in offering raffle tickets for each completed item and offering drawings for wellness-related prizes at a company picnic or end of year holiday party. Additionally, a point value can be used and participants can earn points to be in a drawing for achieving gold, silver or bronze status.

To ensure your program produces real culture change over time, consult these six steps to a successful, sustainable workplace program.


Small business owners do not have to break the bank to offer their employees great wellness programs. Take a look at what is offered through your current benefits and educate your employees on how to take full advantage of what they offer. Do not be afraid to reach out to local organizations to see what kind of free or low-cost programming is available.

©Copyright 2017 by Lori Kunkle, Clinical Wellness Director for Power Kunkle Benefits Consulting, a UBA Partner Firm. Reproduction permitted with attribution to the author.

The Future of Corporate Wellness – Where Will We Go From Here?
7th August 2017 by fgsiteadmin in General

I am proud to say that I have been involved in corporate wellness since the mid-1980s. Helping employees live healthier and happier lives, as well as supporting employers with best-in-class tools to improve their cultures, have been my passion and purpose. I have witnessed and worked on corporate wellness since the time when physical health was the most important aspect of workers’ health. I cannot say I have worked with wellness since its inception, though. Corporate wellness has been around longer than many people think. To predict the future of wellness, we must understand its past.

Writings about the effects of work exposure on workers and how to improve workers’ health and well-being can be found as early as the 1700s1. Later, the industrial revolution brought many health issues to workers such as working 14 to 16 hours a day, low wages, and very poor working conditions2. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of health in the 1940s as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” opened our eyes to the concept of health and wellness as a more complex one3. In addition, the work of Halbert Dunn in 1959 helped the word “wellness” circulate more widely in the public health field, but it was the CBS 60 Minutes program with Dan Rather in 1979 titled, “Wellness, there’s a word you don’t hear every day,” that created curiosity about what corporate wellness was at that time – emphasis on physical health4. Corporate wellness has evolved since then and many studies have been published leading to a wealth of knowledge on best practices, return on investment (ROI), value of investment, risk reduction, health improvement, and more. The March 2017 edition of Health Affairs was dedicated exclusively on the relationship of work and health, and health and work highlighting important recent studies on wellness. Wellness has moved from physical health to thriving in other dimensions such as emotional, financial, spiritual, social, and intellectual health. In addition, many theories on behavior change and behavior economics have been adopted in wellness programs and its incentive designs. Wellness has changed from a “nice to have” to a “must have” benefit, but it must be done right and implemented consistently in order to provide positive results that align with your company’s goals.

I don’t have a crystal ball or special powers, but I believe the future of wellness lies in the following:

Millennials in the workforce will demand more sophisticated technology.

The traditional health risk assessment will be replaced by a more holistic kind – check out the True Vitality Test from The Blue Zones. (The UBA Health Plan Survey finds that although 72.5 percent of wellness programs include health risk assessments, their use has been declining, dropping 10.5 percent in three years.)

Wellness will be part of all successful companies’ business objectives – the Chief Wellness & Well-being Officer’s ultimate goal will be to build a culture of health, self-responsibility, and emotional balance. Wellness will be an important piece of this. For great examples of companies ahead of our time, check out Dr. Ron Goetzel’s work at the Institute of Health and Productivity Studies at John Hopkins School of Public Health.

Non-traditional workplace environments will replace the health-damaging sitting and sedentary work environment of today.

Wellness will be more integrated with benefits in general, but more specifically with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) as a way to help employees fund them.
ROI will no longer be the focus, and instead it will be part of a long-term business strategy.

Wellness will have a wider impact overall where employees will thrive in the workplace and bring their health improvement skills to their families and communities.

We now know how to deliver wellness that positively affects cultures and population health. We don’t need any additional studies. All we need are brave and open-minded companies to embark on the journey of optimal wellness and well-being. This journey is full of trials and errors, but also full of self-discovery and growth that can build very profitable companies filled with employees who truly engage at work and thrive every day. Who is with me in this journey?

Download our free (no form!) special report, “2016 Trends in Employer Wellness Programs,” for more information on wellness components trending among employers, especially the increase in telephonic coaching and the decrease in the use of health risk assessments.

For complete health plan design and cost trends by industry, region and group size, download UBA’s 2016 Health Plan Survey Executive Summary.

For comprehensive information on designing wellness programs that create lasting change, download UBA’s whitepaper: “Wellness Programs — Good for You & Good for Your Organization.”

To understand legal requirements for wellness programs, request UBA’s ACA Advisor, “Understanding Wellness Programs and Their Legal Requirements,” which reviews the five most critical questions that wellness program sponsors should ask and work through to determine the obligations of their wellness program under the ACA, HIPAA, ADA, GINA, and ERISA, as well as considerations for wellness programs that involve tobacco use in any way.

©Copyright 2017 by Valeria S. Tivnan at EBS, a UBA Partner Firm. Reproduction permitted with attribution to the author.