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5 easy ways to keep employees engaged in wellness

James A. Martin | July 15, 2016
Employee wellness programs are no longer a novelty, and in many organizations the initial excitement has died down. Corporate wellness experts and HR reps share real-world examples of how to keep staff engaged with simple enhancements and incentives.

2. Help employees improve financial health

Some employee wellness programs have had emotional health components for a while, but adding financial wellbeing initiatives to employee programs is a recent trend. 

"Financial wellbeing programs, in particular, are in demand, as financial concerns among employees are rising," according to Douglas Choo, head of strategy, national accounts at insurance company MetLife, which recently conducted its 14th annual Employee Benefit Trends Study. Choo says MetLife's study found that 46 percent of all employees believe their personal financial situations will improve in the next year, a number that's down from 52 percent in 2014. "Similarly, in just four years, employee concerns about meeting monthly living expenses have increased by 15 percentage points, up from 38 percent in 2012 to more than half of employees — 53 percent — in 2015," Choo says.

While 53 percent of the employees MetLife surveyed believe financial education workshops help them better understand their financial needs, only 38 percent of employers offer these programs, according to the study. 

Cisco introduced its financial health program about a year ago, according to Johnson, and it includes WebEx webinars on a variety of topics, such as how to manage a 401K. Employees can go to a Cisco microsite, pick a financial persona that fits, and then, based on that persona, choose from the suggested webinars. Cisco also plans to offer on-site financial counseling, and employees will be able to meet with financial planners face-to-face, Johnson says.

3. Link activity challenges with charity causes

To encourage greater employee engagement, a growing number of organizations are tying fitness challenges and other wellness programs to "social responsibility," according to Amy McDonough, vice president and general manager of Fitbit Group Health, which offers hardware and software for enterprise fitness initiatives. 

Last fall, Target rolled out its first corporate wellness challenge using Fitbits that employees could either get for free or buy at subsidized prices, depending upon the models they wanted, according to Cara McNulty, head of big-box-retailer Target's Population Health and Team Member Wellness program, who spoke during a session at the Fitbit Captivate event.

Eighteen different teams won Target's daily challenge during a one-month period by racking up the highest average daily step counts using their Fitbits, McNulty said. The reward? Each winning team got $50,000 to donate to the charity of their choice. The challenge also resulted in a company-wide monthly total of 13 billion steps and 6 million miles tracked, as well as 500 million calories burned, she said.

Target's charity fitness challenge is in line with its culture of corporate responsibility, and the retailer gives 5 percent of its profits to community causes each year, according to McNulty. "Our motto is simple," she said. "We focus on our teams to serve our guests in order to impact our community."


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