9 Reasons Your Employee Wellbeing Program Isn't Working (And How to Fix It)

9 Reasons Your Employee Wellbeing Program Isn't Working (And How to Fix It)

Is your employee wellbeing program broken? These 9 things could be causing your employee wellness program to underperform.

9 Reasons Your Employee Wellbeing Program Isn't Working (And How to Fix It)

Over the past few years, remote work has placed a spotlight on the importance of employee wellbeing. As we gain familiarity with the post-pandemic workplace, employee wellness programs are quickly emerging as a strategic workplace initiative to battle chronic burnout and keep hybrid teams engaged.

If you want to boost employee engagement and retention, an effective wellness program is no longer a nice-to-have... it's a must-have. But creating a wellness program that keeps employees interested is tricky — especially if your team is distributed or working remotely. Over time, competing priorities and lack of employee buy-in can cause your wellness program to suffer.

So what's holding your wellness program back? Here's nine reasons your program might be floundering — and how you can fix it.

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Your employee wellness strategy doesn't include pulse surveys

For most organizations, the standard process is to send one annual wellness survey per year. But that's not enough to effectively gauge your employees' wellbeing. Instead, organizations must consistently track and measure employee sentiment.

In addition to being useful for helping you track employee wellbeing, pulse surveys are also a powerful tool for boosting employee morale. If you're not including employee listening in your wellness strategy, employees won't feel like they have a voice in your organization's decisions.

The solution: more frequent pulse surveys. Give your employees a voice in your wellness program by asking them to anonymously share how their work environment impacts their overall health. By enabling them to have a voice in your workplace culture, your employees will feel more supported and engaged.

Tip: Stay on top of employee wellbeing with wellness surveys and frequent check-ins. Send pulse surveys at least once each quarter to measure mental wellbeing, work-related stress, and work-life balance. Be sure to include open-ended questions where employees can provide suggestions on how to better support their wellbeing.

Stay on top of employee wellbeing with wellness surveys and frequent check-ins

Lack of visibility

Is your wellness program being properly communicated to your employees? Even if you believe that the program is crystal clear, your employees might not understand how the program works.

If your wellness program requires a huge amount of legwork to hunt down, employees won't bother to participate. When planning your workplace wellness strategy, leverage existing technology to spread awareness of your programming and health benefits.

Tip:  Make sure that your wellness program is clearly visible with nudges and reminders of the benefits. Include information about your wellbeing program in monthly newsletters, and use tech tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to keep employees in the loop.

Is a lack of communication hurting your workplace? Renew your engagement strategy with our free Employee Engagement Action Plan template!

Free Template: Employee Engagement Action Plan

You're missing a DEI component

Often overlooked, including a focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is essential for any effective wellbeing program.

Supporting DEI and cultural diversity in the workplace shows your team members shows that you value each of their different background and the unique perspective they bring to their work.

As an added bonus, fostering more inclusive work environments through diversity initiatives improves team performance by up to 30 percent.

If you're not sure how to get started, here are 15 ways you can promote DEI on your teams.

Working on fostering inclusion in your organization? Stay on top of important dates with our free DEI calendar!

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Mental health is treated as an afterthought

76 percent of employees believe their company should be doing more to protect their mental health. Unfortunately, many organizations overlook mental wellbeing when designing their workplace wellness program.

With so many employees experiencing chronic stress and even burnout, employee mental health must be treated as a top priority. Ultimately, your wellbeing programs should also emphasize wellbeing activities like taking breaks, drinking plenty of water, practicing gratitude, and getting adequate sleep. Consider offering access to online therapy sessions as a wellness perk as well.

Tip: Show your employees that mental health is a priority by sending frequent pulse surveys and offering programming that highlights the importance of mental health. Build healthy habits by incorporating self-care into your wellness programming.

Motivate employees to practice mindfulness and self-care with fun virtual activities
With employee engagement platforms like Cooleaf, organizations can encourage mindfulness and self-care through fun virtual activities.

Old school technology

Many organizations still rely on outdated technology like spreadsheets or e-mail to track wellness participation. Not only is this more cumbersome to manage, but it also discourages employees from participating.

These days, there are tons of tech platforms available to help you take your employees' wellbeing to the next level. Apps like Headspace, which helps employees with stress management through mindfulness, and Wellbeats, which offers virtual, on-demand fitness classes, are a great benefit to encourage team members to take care of their health. Or, there's employee experience platforms like Cooleaf, which offers wellness rewards, employee wellbeing programming, and integrated fitness tracking in one comprehensive platform.

Tip: Incorporate modern technology like integrated fitness trackers, video coaching, and health apps to engage and connect your team.

Encourage healthy activities with integrated step challenges

Stale programming

Without engaging programming, your wellness program will stall. To prevent wellness programming from growing stale, employers should regularly research new and creative opportunities to engage their team in health & wellness.

Ongoing competitions and wellness events provide opportunities to encourage employee health and wellness. They also offer a powerful way for employees to get to know one another and support teammates' journeys towards better health.

Increasingly, top workplaces are incorporating gamification and social connection — like real-time leaderboards and social feeds — to keep team members motivated in health and wellness. With today's wellness technologies, you can easily track your team's progress and monitor the effectiveness of your wellness program.

Improve employee engagement with Cooleaf wellness challenges
Improve employee engagement with Cooleaf's customizable wellness challenges

Tip: Build a calendar of wellbeing activities and run them throughout the year. Crowdsource ideas from employees to learn what would make them feel more supported and engaged in wellness. You might be surprised by some of the creative ideas they share!

Wellness rewards are too difficult to attain

Employee wellbeing incentives or rewards are a powerful tool to boost program participation and encourage employee health.

Benefits-based well-being incentive programs often offer employee incentives such as a discount on their insurance premium, paid time off, or a contribution to an HSA or HRA. However, research shows that small, short-term incentives may be even more powerful in increasing healthy habits in the long-term.

When wellness incentives are tied to small achievements, employees are more likely to stay engaged in your wellness program and feel positively towards your workplace culture.

Tip: Incentives need to be attainable in order to be effective. Offer tangible, immediate rewards for achieving small health goals like drinking more water or walking at least 7,500 steps each  day.

As we all return to the office or begin to plan their hybrid work strategy, employers will need to re-examine their approach to employee wellbeing. We hope these tips will help your employee wellness program flourish!

Small wins aren't celebrated enough

Every little thing contributes to overall wellbeing. In an office setting especially, it's important to highlight daily wins like hitting small goals or accomplishing simple tasks.

When employees feel under-appreciated, they're more likely to be disengaged and their mental health at work is more likely to suffer. Research shows that 64% of employees wish their managers would regularly thank them in a timely, specific way.

One great way to celebrate your team in a cost-effective way that's proven to boost morale is adopting a practice of regular employee recognitions.

You can also take time to offer employee spotlights that are a quick and easy way to let your teams know how appreciated they are!

Practicing employee spotlights is a great way to boost morale! Platforms like Cooleaf make it easy to recognize team members with built in incentives.

There's no room for cross-team bonding

It can be difficult to create space for bonding when teams aren't working closely together on a regular basis. It may take a few extra steps to bring members from different teams together, but doing so is necessary for employee wellbeing.

Workplace friendships are as important as those formed outside of the office. According to a 2021 Workplace Friendship & Happiness Survey, 57% of people say having a best friend in the workplace makes work more enjoyable, 22% feel more productive with friends, and 21% say friendship makes them more creative.

Although it may seem like encouraging friendships falls outside of leadership responsibilities, its just as important as any piece of your wellness strategy.

Creating space for interaction across different teams is a huge step in the right direction. Often, the closest bonds are created across different teams within an organization.


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