Company Wellness Programs: 5 Ways to Boost Participation

November 15, 2017

By Erin Ollila

Company wellness programs can encourage your coworkers to live healthier lives: To get that flu shot, sign up for the 5k, get screened for diseases, and much more. But wellness programs don't work if nobody signs up for them.

In addition to incentives your company may provide, you can generate enthusiasm and drive greater participation by creating a visual campaign in your office. Here are a few ideas:

1. Motivational Banners or Signs

Is your company sponsoring a 5k? Hosting a walk to fundraise money for a cause? Any group event can benefit from bold, energetic messages to rev up excitement. Hang signs up as the kickoff approaches, and have signup and informational sheets (with the same logo and overall look) on hand to distribute and reinforce the signs' messages.

If companies participate in races of any kind, it's also a lot of fun to have smaller signs for spectators to cheer on their colleagues. Have a few varieties of a simple sign printed up to distribute to employees who want to support each other.

2. Fitness-Related Promo Products

Everyone loves free stuff. Promotional items with your wellness program messaging can very effectively spread the word — especially for longer-term wellness challenges or initiatives. Water bottles, T-shirts, gym bags, even kickballs with the company logo can be a fun way to encourage participation.

As a bonus, including your company's logo on the item can serve as free advertising for the company, providing a benefit that goes beyond wellness program participation.

3. Laminates or Booklets with Healthy Ideas

Informational pieces can provide the right motivation to get employees involved in a variety of programs. A single-page laminated sheet could outline the benefits of the flu shot or health screenings; a booklet could include a few ideas for healthy snacks to power through the workday; you might even get all staff members to submit healthy meal recipes and bind them into a book for distribution.

Struggling to come up with ideas? The President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have fact sheets on a number of general topics that might work well for your program.

4. Punch Cards to Keep Score

If your office is full of competitive types, you may choose to hold a weight-loss or fitness contest as part of your wellness program. Punch cards can be created out of laminated paper and used to chart everyone's progress — recording every pound lost, mile walked or workout class attended. The person with the most punches at the end wins an item such as a fitness tracker or piece of home exercise equipment.

5. Printed Inspirational Notes

The beauty of company wellness programs is that individuals support each other's efforts toward a common goal. Creating a series of motivational messages and distributing them throughout the challenge can play off this strength, and help keep employees involved after the initial excitement wears off. If you're doing a three-month exercise or healthy eating challenge, for instance, send out a note that says: "You're doing a great job! Keep up the hard work," at the beginning of month two.

Company wellness programs work best when a lot of people get involved. Your efforts can help — think about the kinds of messages or materials that would resonate, and ask your print partner for help bringing them to life.

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