Tips for engaging employees in health and wellness programs


Your company has invested in several programs aimed at improving the health of the workforce. In spite of these investments, program participation has been low and employee engagement has been disappointing. How can you motivate your employees to become more responsible for their health?


The Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) works with employers to combat these types of problems and to explore alternative approaches to benefit design and health improvement programs. Here are MBGH’s recommendations for supporting employee engagement and health improvement efforts:

    • When implementing workplace health and benefit programs, take into account the company's culture. Incorporate strategies that build employee trust — a big influence on employee participation.
    • Include employees' dependents and other family members, and often their doctors, in company communication efforts so they can support health improvement and behavior change efforts at home and in their daily lives. Employees cite their doctors as their most credible source of information.
    • Offer "Benefits-at-a-Glance" resources that include information such as cost comparisons among plans, the actual cost of health services, and benefit/coverage changes that could have an impact on out-of-pocket costs.
    • Use the results of clinical screening programs and campaigns such as "Know Your Numbers" as the trigger to get employees to consider making necessary lifestyle changes. Coworkers' experiences also appear to influence employee behavior and wellness program involvement.
    • To maximize the investment in these resources and to promote value to the employee, incorporate incentives into the benefit design. Incentives appear to be better motivators to action than penalties.
    • Provide information and resources on resiliency and stress management to help employees handle the extremes of a hectic work and home life.

Source: Employee Health Engagement: Identifying the Triggers and Barriers to Engaging Employees in their Health Benefits and Wellness Programs, Midwest Business Group on Health,

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