Four Ways to Keep Your Employees Committed to Staying Healthy

How Well Are You Doing Wellness?

Absenteeism costs American businesses around $200 billion a year. Promoting wellness at your company not only reduces these losses but lowers your health insurance costs. You may already have bike racks in your parking lot and healthier snacks in your vending machines, but that’s not enough to increase your workers’ health and productivity. Below are four ways, from low-tech to cutting-edge, to keep your employees committed to staying healthy.

1. Copy Costco

The future of corporate wellness programs is to make them social. Wellness-only Facebook pages allow employees to check contest deadlines, share advice, and give each other encouragement. Costco’s Facebook page is particularly effective in getting information to its employees, answering questions, and posting photos of activities.

Similarly, Facebook Events lets companies invite employees to marathons, health screenings, and other activities. Make you let the world’s most popular social network work for you.

2. Scratch That Itch

Contests can be social, too. For example, though giveaways are fun, they don’t provide a lot of participation.; once you’ve entered, you’re done. The solution? Scratch-to-win cards. The more an employee participates in the wellness program, or the more benchmarks she passes, the more cards she’ll receive. Scratching off cards is much more engaging than a prize drawing, and colleagues can gather around to cheer each other as the employee discovers what she won. If you have workers who play the lottery, they’ll love scratch cards.

3. Game the System

Virtual gaming is the next step, and software tools like Bunchball’s Nitro can apply game mechanics to any campaign, including corporate wellness. Participants can earn points and rewards each time they take a health quiz, practice for a marathon, or for each day they don’t smoke. Games appeal to people’s innate love of status and competition. New challenges and an ever-changing online leaderboard can ensure that everyone participates, anyone can win, and no one ever gets bored.

4. Life Support

Another social aspect to a wellness program is the support group. Biking and running groups get to exercise together, but the workers trying to quit smoking, or eat healthier, or manage stress are often left to fend for themselves. Creating a group lets them support each other and reward each other’s success. A support group could be a half-hour weekly meeting (with or without management), a special site or message board on your intranet, or a public social support site like 43Things.

Consider all these social aspects when you create or redesign your company’s wellness program. From Facebook to games to old-fashioned face-to-face “social networking,” making your corporate wellness program social can keep your employees engaged, productive, and healthy.
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