How to Fix the Top 5 Challenges of Corporate Wellness Programs


It’s no secret that the pandemic turned the workplace upside down. With high rates of stress, burnout, and frustration, 90% of employers are investing in mental health initiatives as a result.


You’re likely already investing in your employees’ skills. It’s also essential to invest in your employees as humans, too. Unless you’re employing an entirely robotic workforce, corporate wellness programs help you take a more human-centered approach to business.


Investing in employee wellness is the right thing to do, but it also comes with benefits to your bottom line, such as:


  • 70% of employees have higher job satisfaction

  • 56% of employees took fewer sick days

  • 62% of businesses say wellness programs reduce healthcare costs

  • 63% of employers see financial growth as a result of wellness programs


Sounds promising, right? If you can execute your wellness initiatives successfully, this will be a win for both your business and your employees.


The problem is that corporate wellness programs are famously hard to execute. If you’re struggling to design better wellness programs at work, you aren’t alone. Here are five major challenges of implementing a wellness program—and what your company can do about it.

Challenge #1: It’s too heavy-handed


Did you know that wellness programs can decrease absenteeism by up to 300%? That’s enough to make any business get on board with wellness. The problem is that it’s easy to go overboard.

Some wellness initiatives are overzealous and heavy-handed. This usually happens in the form of:

  • Asking employees to share private health information

  • Penalizing employees for not participating

  • Discriminating against employees who smoke, who are over a certain age, or who have disabilities

  • Asking employees to participate in controversial diets or exercise regimens

These problems quickly lead to resentment among employees. As a business, you can’t overstep your boundaries; after all, you aren’t your employees’ doctor or psychologist.


The solution


Corporate wellness only works when it’s an optional, positive experience for employees. Never ask for personal information that isn’t critical to the operation of your business. If you need employee health information for some reason, consider using a third-party company to manage that, so the information is completely separate from your business.


Challenge #2: It’s too confusing or complicated


Corporate wellness programs need to be as simple as possible. If too many moving parts or “gotcha” clauses make it hard to succeed, your employees won’t stick with the program. And if people don’t stick with the program, what’s the point of offering corporate wellness in the first place?


The solution


Make your corporate wellness programs as simple as possible. It should be easy for people of any fitness level to participate, too. Depending on your company, you can consider programs like:

  • Bring your own lunch to work

  • Offer free, fun online classes

  • Offer free or reduced gym memberships

  • Schedule free flu shot clinics

  • Host a “10,000 steps a day” challenge

When in doubt, run a few of your ideas past HR, leadership, and an employee committee to ensure that your wellness program is truly easy to understand.


Challenge #3: No one cares


What do you do if employees don’t want to participate in your corporate wellness program? Remember, you shouldn’t make this mandatory, so you need to find other ways to engage employees.


Think about it: if people don’t want to participate, it means there might be something wrong with the way the program has been set up. Are employees so overworked that they don’t have time for wellness? Or is the program just not worth their time?


The solution


Motivation can be a big problem, but fortunately, you have a lot of recourse here:

  • Ask employees what they want: Since wellness programs revolve around employee participation, you need to involve employees when designing your program. What do they want? Send quick surveys asking employees which wellness initiatives they would find beneficial. If you’re having trouble getting responses, offer promotional gifts or gift cards in exchange for their participation.

  • Offer incentives: Yes, rewards encourage employee participation in wellness programs! If you offer free T-shirts, water bottles, branded sneakers, or fitness trackers to employees who participate, there’s a good chance more people will sign up.

  • Mobilize management: Many workplace cultures come down to “monkey see, monkey do.” If you want to encourage employees to take advantage of your company’s massage therapy program, for example, ask managers to be the first ones to sign up. By inviting leadership to take the plunge, you’re telling employees, “This is a normal part of working here, and you should try it, too!”

Challenge #4: You don’t have enough people to run the program

So, you know you want to do a wellness program, but there’s one big problem: you don’t have a dedicated team (or even an employee) to run it for you.


Everyone is busy and overworked these days, but you can’t run an effective wellness program if you don’t have anyone in charge of it. You need someone to be accountable for running the program.


The solution


If your budget won’t allow hiring a full-time employee to manage wellness, create a committee instead. This spreads out the workload, eliminates the need to hire more people, and helps you plan wellness programs more democratically.


Challenge #5: You don’t have wellness program funding


The age-old issue with wellness programs is that there aren’t enough funds to create the program successfully. This is especially true if you have a C-suite that needs to see hard, bottom-line returns before agreeing to any new initiatives.


The solution


You know that you need some kind of budget for wellness, but you don’t have to break the bank. This isn’t an advertising campaign where you’re going to see sales immediately. However, you will see the difference in employee retention, productivity, and lower absenteeism.


If you don’t already, work with your HR team to track your historical performance with these metrics. You can even roll out a pilot program with one department, track that implementation, and get proof of concept first. It’s much easier to obtain funding if you have hard numbers in hand!

Corporate wellness is a must to Inspire Brand Love™

After years of employment and work-from-home stress, wellness is on everyone’s minds. It’s possible for companies to invest in their employees’ health, and in doing so, you’ll want to be careful about overstepping boundaries, causing confusion, and breaking your budget.


While the bottom line matters, your employees—and your business—can’t succeed if they’re stressed, sick, or miserable. The goal of wellness programs is to keep your best asset—your employees—functioning at a high level.


Is it time to create a culture of wellness at your workplace? Create Brand Love moments with your employees through the power of culture-boosting campaigns that delight (and retain) your team. Originally posted by our partner Boundless on Mar 30, 2022