Increase Employee Engagement in your Wellness Program

Reasons why wellness programs have low engagement and what you can do to improve your program.

According to Gallup, only 24% of employees at companies that offer wellness programs are engaged in those programs. Eek, what gives? I mean, wellness programs rock! Several studies have proven that an effective wellness program can increase employee productivity (CDC), improve employee morale (CDC), decrease sick days (AJPH), and more. But what’s the secret? How do you actually get your employees participating in your wellness program? Below I’ve outlined two key reasons that might explain why, and what you can do to overcome them.

Reason #1 : Lack of time. 1200 employees who have access to a wellness program were surveyed and lack of time ranked as the #1 reason they didn’t participate, which probably isn’t a huge surprise.

Solution: Meet employees where they are. Unfortunately, we can’t increase the number of hours in a day. We can, however, meet the employees where they are and make it easy for them to engage when they want. All employees are different: some like onsite fitness classes, others like to workout at their home gym. Some are early birds, some are night owls. Having tools available that allow people to engage in a wellness program when they want (hint hint: Spire) is important to get the most engagement.

Reason #2: Poor communication. In this study covered in the Harvard Business Review, 69% of nonparticipants indicated that they simply weren’t aware that their workplace had a wellness program to begin with. In my experience, proper communication is essential to having a successful wellness program. You can build it, but without proper communication, they might not come.

Solution: Implement a wellness champion network. Wellness champions are the real secret to a successful wellness program. The wellness champs spread the word about the programs, help build excitement and rally participation. Use your wellness champion network as a direct line of communication to employees about the wellness program. With Spire, we encourage our clients to spend most of their implementation time finding a group of movers and shakers and go-getters. Empowering them is crucial, because we know they are the key to success in impacting positive behavior change amongst their peers.

Obviously, these aren’t the only two reasons why employees aren’t participating in wellness programs (or the only two solutions to those problems). What has been your experience? Why do you think (or know, maybe?) that your people aren’t getting involved? And what are you doing, to try to combat this lack of engagement?

Thanks for reading, and if you’d like to continue this conversation, please leave a comment! Or, shoot me an email at I’d love to chat!