3 Steps to Ruin Any Corporate Wellness Program

  • Nov 16, 2011

Austin, Texas: Our company has been involved in hundreds of corporate wellness programs over the past decade, and we see the same three mistakes over and over again that can sabotage or ruin any program, regardless of its intent.

I have seen some programs take as long as 18-24 months to finally get management approval, only to see the program die a quick death in less than four months.

Below are the three most important steps  that every wellness program needs to maximize its impact and to offer the greatest return on investment – and none of it includes the program itself.

Sure, having a sound program is crucial. That goes without saying.  I’m sure the program that your organization has been vetted (many times over) and has gotten the approval of both the employees and management.

Now what?

Here are the three mot important parts of any wellness program.  Avoid any of them at your own peril.  It will be doomed to failure from the start.

1. Announcement/Kickoff: Your kickoff should be a celebration – not a memo or poster placed on the rest room door. Treat it like a huge kick-off celebration, including a program theme, name and festivities.

Make it fun.

Keep it exciting.

Make it memorable.

Without a strong start, your wellness program will never gain traction or momentum that it needs.

It is very difficult to re-introduce a program that has failed to capture the attention of your employees.

Hold contests.  Have drawings for imprinted theme logo T-Shirts and imprinted pedometers – and corporate perks. Have lots of winners.  This is not the time to be stingy.

Have food and drink (healthy options, I would hope).

Bring in a motivational speaker or local cheer leaders.

Think carnival atmosphere— and you will be on the right track.

This is not the tme for the white collar treatment.  You are not announcing a new white paper or discussing a new accounting trick you learned.

You are announcing a fun program that can change your employees’ lives.

2. Wellness Reminders: Probably the easiest way to see your program lost effectiveness is lack of promotion.  Out of sight is out of mind for wellness programs.  Keep your program top-of-mind with constant reminders: which can be imprinted promotional products, like pens and pencils, magnets, key tags,sports bottles, koozies and more.

Promote the program with email newsletters, with posters and flyers, with announcements, with preferred parking spots, lunches with management, time off, etc.

Without consistent reinforcement and reminders, your wellness incentive will see high attrition rates.

Wellness reminders must be planned.  They cannot be sporadic or done whatever you get around to it.  It must be consistent in order to be effective.

3: Recognition: The final way to ruin a wellness program is not to recognize those employees who have been making progress and reaching certain criteria.  Now, personal weight is a private matter, but percentage weight loss can be promoted.  So can weeks of not smoking, consecutive days at a gym, etc.

Find fun and creative ways to recognize achievement– and also to recognize and reward positive small steps. All employees should have the opportunity to be recognized and rewarded on a regular basis.  It can be as simple as a decal, ribbon or pin that gets earned for meeting weekly goals to plaques and awards for meeting other goals.

Bottom line, people respond to peer approval and recognition, and will brag about it to friends and families.  After all, isn’t your wellness program supposed to be a feel good experience?

Getting the go ahead and the budget for a wellness program is just the first step in a successful program.  Following these three steps will keep your employees motivated, improve success rates, and keep management supportive.

Here’s to a healthier workforce!


  • Category: Wellness Programs
  • Tags: guide to wellness programs, keys to wellness program, problems to avoid in wellness program, tips for wellness program, wellness program tips, wellness reminders