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3 Employee Wellness Strategies To Make Your Program Surprisingly Fun

3 Employee Wellness Strategies To Make Your Program Surprisingly Fun Propel
A wellness program that counts gets people off the couch, gets them moving, sparks their interests and motivates them to push past apathy. This kind of program isn't a chore, it's actually fun.

How many times have we heard it?

"If you fill out the HRA and go get a biometric screening, we'll put money in your HSA!"

We begrudgingly abide by these terms, knowing the reward is probably worth it for us to participate. But do we really enjoy it? Does it actually make us change our lifestyle? Not at all.

Fulfilling a requirement needs to be left to the compliance department. A wellness program should never be the equivalent to completing paperwork. It needs to make us excited. We need to know our organization cares about us and that they want to make our job and lives more enjoyable. A wellness program that counts gets people off the couch, gets them moving, sparks their interests and motivates them to push past apathy. This kind of program isn't a chore, it's actually fun.

How do you take a boring program and turn it into something your employees tell their friends about? Or how do you avoid falling flat when launching a new wellness program? Here are 3 employee wellness strategies that can make your program surprisingly fun.

1. Find out what engages your employees.

It sounds very simple and straightforward, but it’s a step many organizations bypass. It’s very easy to get lost in the numbers, focusing on what can be presented to management, shareholders or the public. You may even start talking with colleagues but have no idea what even to ask. 

Forget about the conventional program and what a wellness initiative has to look like. Begin your employee wellness strategy by talking to your team.

Find out what kinds of activities they like to do. Is there a group that meets weekly to bike? Are there individuals that find exercise classes at their local gym engaging? If you have access to parks and trails, are there people in your office that love to hike? What about sports? Is there a company softball team? How many people love to go for a long walk at lunch or on a break?

Taking time to ask questions also gets your employees pre-invested in your program.

Approaching them to say, “Hey, I’m working on implementing/improving a wellness program at our company and I would really love to know what kinds of things peak your interest” helps you gain insight but also gives them a say in how their program will be shaped. Those who have input in the program to start will feel more connected to and invested in what you are implementing.

What do we do with this information?

If you know that your population loves to walk, by all means have a step challenge where employees compete to see who can get the most steps. But if you continue to get the feedback that your company loves to do yoga, holding a step challenge may not engage many people.

Instead, you might consider running a competition to see who can do the most minutes of yoga. Suddenly, your office is alive with chatter about how they are scheduling more yoga classes this week so they can win the competition. Maybe you consider bringing in a yoga instructor to the office to do a session during lunch. Perhaps co-workers start meeting up on the weekends to do yoga in the park. 

Not sure how you can run a competition on something like yoga? Propel offers the ability to run competitions on hundreds of trackable activities; everything from community service hours to minutes spent kayaking.

2. Get creative with your rewards.

Practical rewards are wonderful. They pay the bills and give employees logical reasons to work toward a wellbeing goal. However, are they truly engaging your population?

As with strategy 1, finding out what motivates your population is paramount. An effective employee wellness strategy uses creative rewards to motivate and excite a population. Begin by coming up with a list of creative rewards that are doable at your organization. Start with the simple ones like an HSA contribution. Then move on to the more out of the box ideas. 

Have a variety of reward options available in your program.

Monetary rewards like cash and gift cards work well for populations that seem more motivated by having something they can spend. 

T-shirts, water bottles, coolers and other promotional products could be branded with your wellness program logo and increase awareness along with providing a reward.

If there is a hot product that might be a fun motivator like an electric scooter or a new tablet, doing a raffle or giveaway keeps cost relatively low with one or a few lucky winners.

Surprisingly, very few organizations consider non-monetary rewards as important to their programs. Even if you continue to concentrate on monetary incentives, think about weaving in non-financial rewards. Badges, certificates, recognition at the next company meeting and trophies can bring out just as much competition as money.

It’s vital that an incentive plan contain hooks that keep engagement levels high. People aren’t all motivated by the same things. A well constructive incentive program needs to contain multiple “on ramps” to provide meaningful rewards for every type of employee.

3. Embrace team spirit.

We are taught that teams increase creativity, promote a sense of pride and typically result in higher levels of ownership and engagement. Why not bring that team spirit into wellbeing?

Yes, there are a number of things individuals need privacy on when it comes to wellness. It is certainly true that there are aspects of wellbeing that are indeed personal. Taking a team approach to something like getting a health screening isn’t viable.

Teams become increasingly important when evaluating whether or not to participate. Something about the encouragement and peer pressure of a team motivates even the most skeptical. A sense of togetherness takes a wellbeing program to an entirely new level of participation and engagement.

Teaming brings out an infectious competitive spirit that can make the workplace even more exciting. One of our favorite teaming arrangements is to group people of similar job function or location. This tends to increase the loyalty among the team, having tangible effects on office chemistry. 

Use teams to motivate individuals.

Giving your population a sense of duty to their team may also motivate individual habits. What begins as a task completion to earn a team more points may grow into a self-motivated habit down the line. Not only does your program get more fun, it gets more effective.

Running into administrative challenges with managing teams manually? Our advanced teaming functionality makes it easy to form groups and teams of any size. You can even issue private team challenges and compete on hundreds of activities.

Be flexible with your employee wellness strategy!

It takes trial and error to find the perfect employee wellness strategy that works for your organization. Even using the three strategies in this article will take time and patience to implement. Be flexible and allow your team to try different things to see whether your population responds favorably

Building a wellness program is an important step towards an employee focused culture that will only help your organization thrive. Keep the big picture in mind and take your time! Before you know it, your program will be a flourishing.

Nicholas Layne

About the author

Nicholas Layne

Nicholas is the Director of Strategic Operations at Propel. He is also a Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

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