5 Reasons Why Corporate Wellness Programs Fail

Men and women discussing corporate events | nova vitacare | Texas

Wellness programs always start for the right reasons. After all, wouldn’t you want to work for a company whose employees are happy and healthy, helping to boost morale, improve employee retention, and increase work productivity? With burnout from workplace stress at an all-time high, companies are looking for ways to support the overall health and well-being of their employees. However, launching a wellness program isn’t as easy as companies may think. We’ve delved into major reasons why company wellness programs fail and how to avoid them.


What Is an Employee Wellness Program?


Employee wellness programs, or employee well-being initiatives, are a benefits system within a company designed to help employees maintain their physical and mental health. Wellness programs should provide an array of creative resources that encourage employees to prioritize their well-being both inside and outside the office.


Encouraging employees to address their overall well-being, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and practice self-care can boost work performance, engagement, and morale, and may reduce healthcare costs.


While a wellness program can’t single-handedly resolve employees’ health issues, it can play a significant role in offering support and be the starting point for a new perspective on health. An employee wellness program can improve company culture and create a motivating environment when implemented successfully.


Why Do Employee Wellness Programs Fail?


Employee wellness programs may fail for a variety of reasons, but we’ve pinpointed 5 common reasons and how to avoid them.


1. Lack of Leadership Buy-In and Retention


One reason why company wellness programs may fail is because there is insufficient leadership buy-in, decreasing adequate funding and proper engagement. Management and leadership may view the program as an expense, rather than an investment. Viewing employees and their health concerns as a risk factor instead of viewing them for their potential can hinder employees’ perception of and engagement in a company wellness program.


If leadership fails to inform employees about the importance of maintaining their well-being, then employees may dismiss their health needs. They will not view the wellness program as an influential asset to their health. A study by IBM explains that while 80% of executives believe their company is supportive of employees’ physical and emotional health, only 46% of employees reported feeling that their company supports their physical and emotional health.


Leadership can encourage the improvement of employees’ well-being by showing their full support behind the wellness initiative including hands-on involvement. Employees will view the wellness program as a health advantage when management clearly displays support, provides enough funding, and participates in the program.


Key Takeaways

  • Ensure senior staff are visibly involved and interested in the program.
  • Display leadership commitment through personal notes about how the program aligns with the company’s culture.
  • Inform employees about the proven benefits and statistics of having successful wellness initiatives.
  • Incorporate leader-sponsored activities in your well-being program.

2. Emphasis on Incentives and Rewards Instead of Behavioral Change


A wellness program may fail if there is a clear emphasis on the incentives behind the program and a lack of focus on behavioral change. The wellness program, with the support and communication from leadership, should not only focus on participation, but on behavioral change. “Why should an employee participate in the program?” has to go beyond the potential incentives provided, and focus on how the program can enhance employees’ quality of life.


Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are key to the success of a wellness program. Leadership can encourage intrinsic motivation without only relying on extrinsic incentives. The two motivators can work together to reinforce the potential rewards that come with participating in the program. The wellness program should always take the needs of the employees into consideration, reinforcing positive behavioral change.


Key Takeaways:

  • Success metrics should be tied to behavioral change.
  • Encourage employees to make personal goals, track their progress, and stay motivated.
  • Encourage an environment where employees feel comfortable asking questions or getting support.
  • Start small with the extrinsic motivators (and scale up as needed) to engage employees initially.

3. Incentives Don’t Motivate Employees


Employee participation will dwindle if the workplace wellness program’s incentives aren’t what employees want. If employees continuously drop out of wellness challenges or find difficulty in justifying participation, your program may lose support from senior leaders. This makes incentives and rewards super important, with their purpose of encouraging participation. However, if your incentives don’t excite employees, the program won’t get the participation and behavioral health change benefits you’re looking for.


Launching programs that appeal to employees is key and the best place to start is with the company culture. Find out what incentives will stir interest among employees simply by asking them or by conducting surveys. The goal is for the incentives to be worth the participation and to adapt the incentives as employee interests evolve.


Key Takeaways

  • Survey employees to design a persuasive incentive program.
  • Incentives should motivate employees to continue to participate in the program and help them in taking care of their health.
  • Offer competitive wellness challenges to encourage participation with fitness-related rewards, such as free gym memberships or workout gear.

4. The Program Doesn’t Address Employee Needs


No two employee health concerns will be the same. That’s why it’s important that your program offers either a wide range of activities and resources that cater to the diverse needs and interests of your employees or offers whole-body support that every employee can benefit from. If your program lacks personalization, employees won’t get excited about challenging themselves through the program. The most successful programs offer a variety of enticing options (both competitive and non-competitive) for each employee, taking their needs into consideration.


A personalized wellness program that addresses the variety of health needs of each employee considers the holistic health of an individual. Think about physical and mental health. One employee may want to be looking for a weight loss program, one may be looking for access to meditation and therapy resources, and another may want to explore yoga and HIIT workouts. Wellness isn’t a one-size-fits-all, so providing flexible benefits that suit each employee’s lifestyle will keep them engaged, motivated, and determined to challenge themselves through your wellness program.


Key Takeaways:

  • Conduct surveys or questionnaires that provide insight into the challenges your employee may want to overcome, what health resources they’re interested in, and what their specific wellness goals are.
  • Tailor to the needs and goals of your employees. For example, if your office requires employees to sit at a desk for most of the site, offer an on-site fitness center, yoga centers, or standing desks.
  • The wellness program should come to the employees, not the other way around. Consider if your employees can easily access the program. Do you offer traditional on-site and virtual offerings for both remote and hybrid employees?

5. Poor Communication and Participation


Employees may fail to participate in the wellness program if there is poor communication about the available benefits and resources. Typically, wellness programs may rely on company resources (emails, newsletters, and flyers) to get the word out. However, communication channels go beyond these standard methods. Create a multipronged approach to communicating your wellness program and have leadership build up the hype for participation. Brand your program, create a memorable tagline, and develop some personal messages to let personality and fun come across. Talk openly about the program to your employees to keep them engaged, or encourage a team to participate in a challenge together. Keeping employees informed will help inspire them to participate and want to challenge themselves.


Key Takeaways:

  • Customize communication for your unique audience type.
  • Leverage every communication channel (texts, online newsletters, interactive bulletin boards, hands-on meetings and discussions, lunch and learn campaigns, etc.).
  • Market your wellness program as creatively as your business markets its own brand.

Start Your Journey to a Successful Wellness Program With Nova Vita

Interested in improving your company wellness program or looking to start a successful one? Nova Vita Wellness Centers are here to help. Nova Vita recognizes the value of providing resources that help fully optimize the health and wellness of each person. With the expertise of our healthcare professionals, we can offer your organization a personalized Employee Wellness Program by picking and choosing the exact options that work for your team. From onsite infusions, discounted memberships, weight management, and lab panels we will help each of your employees take control of their health. Connect with our team and discover how Nova Vita can help you and your local company prioritize their wellness journey.


Call Now Button