Health Dialog Connections

Three Ways to Boost Your Wellness Program's Engagement Rate

A healthy salad

Remember that old conversation starter: "If a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to hear it, does it even make a sound?" When it comes to wellness, we could ask a similar question: if you develop an awesome wellness program but no one uses it, are you really making an impact?

We'll let the philosophers ponder that first question, but as for the second one: the answer has to be no. Engagement is the first and most critical metric by which a wellness program's success (or lack thereof) can be measured.  

But despite the importance of a stellar member engagement rate, most programs just can't seem to nail down the engagement secret sauce. While we can't give you the whole recipe, here are three steps you can take to boost your own wellness program's engagement statistics:

  1. Customize, customize, oh, and customize- if you want people to actually use your wellness program (which is kind of the whole point, right?) it has to make sense to them. That means a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn't take into account individual preferences, habits and location just won't work as well as one that does. Imagine it this way: Your company just invested in a new wellness program. In order for you to take advantage of all the cool incentives the program offers, you have to track your physical activity for at least 3 months. Sounds easy enough. Problem is, most wellness programs have a limited number of activities that count as progress for the purposes of the incentives, often running and if you're lucky, maybe swimming and biking too. But if you live in the Northeast and you sign up for the new program when it launches in January, you can't get any points for running, swimming or biking unless you pay to join a gym or fight through hypothermia. That means before you could even start tracking your progress, you're turned off by the added cost and/or the threat of losing a toe. Program requirements need to fit seamlessly into your member's lives for them to start and keep using it.
  2. Make it count- We know, we know, incentives are expensive. But study after study demonstrates incentives work to not only initially engage members, but actually keep them participating well into the future. And while the most member-appealing incentives often tend to be the most expensive for you, there are still engagement boosting incentives that won’t break your budget. With our own internal wellness program, whole departments can challenge other departments to different wellness-related challenges. For instance, the marketing department is currently engaged in a rather heated push up challenge with our eternal rivals, the finance department.  The prize? The winning team at the end of the month gets a frozen yogurt party. It may not sound like such a grand conquest, but you might be surprised how much department pride and bragging rights can motivate employees. Also, frozen yogurt is delicious.
  3. Keep it simple- Since your wellness program needs to span your entire population, it needs to be easy for your entire population to use. It's already hard enough to motivate your members to get healthy without also forcing them to call tech support. If you have a member wellness portal, make sure user testing indicates it's both intuitive and enticing. Even if you're sending out hard copy materials or setting up worksite booths, make sure the language used is at an appropriate reading level and includes lots of happy images to draw members in. After all, a good wellness program should feel more like a walk in the park, rather than a Fear Factor obstacle course. 

So there you have it: three steps you can take to boost engagement.

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