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The Real Reason Why Employees Do Not Use Corporate Wellness Programs

There are many reasons why employees do not use Corporate Wellness Programs.

Corporate wellness programs are a hot topic across the board. The Centers for Disease Control is conducting a two-year study across the United States to evaluate the effectiveness of corporate wellness programs in relation to the battle against degenerative disease.

Companies large and small are desperately looking for ways to curb rising costs associated with employee benefits. On average, children are exhibiting adult health issues at the age of twelve. Type II diabetes is posing ever increasing hurdles for our own military. This is a problem that has grown to encompass every community within the US.

For the most part, these statistics are common knowledge and wellness programs have been implemented at many levels. The real problem today is that employees are not using many of the programs made available to them by their employers.

FitNut recently conducted a survey of individuals representing a variety of departments within differently sized companies to find out why they do not participate in their company’s wellness programs. The feedback we got was eye opening.

Real Reasons Employees Do Not Use Corporate Wellness Programs

  • Reasons for not participating in your companies wellness programs:
  • “Big Brother” – fear
  • Bothered that it (wellness participation) is tied to incentives
  • More time spent at work
  • Don’t want coworkers to see me sweat
  • HR department is implementing for the company not the individual employee
  • Flex hours benefits don’t reflect real expectations of my boss
  • Employees do not trust the motivations and intentions behind wellness programs
  • Worried about being judged negatively for taking an hour lunch break
  • Management and corporate executives do not promote their programs by participating and setting an example – mentoring
  • Nobody knows what is being done with the personal health information
  • Don’t believe that the company really “cares” about “me”
  • Programs lack any sort of individualism
  • Mistrust of the government or company
  • Afraid that personal health information will be used against me
  • Required to use personal time to participate in wellness meetings and programs

While it would be easy to blame the economy for many of these concerns, the truth is that this level of mistrust typically spans economic fluctuations and trends. In order to turn negative trends into positive change for the health of both people and our economy, we have to create a new culture. The list of ‘pain-points’ above gives us three major subjects for solutions moving forward.


Leadership can make or break employee trust, and an employee who trusts the people he or she works for is less likely to feel dispensable. This inherently nurtures the sentiment that each employee is valued for his or her unique contribution to the company.

We develop programs that allow the employees to feel like they have a voice and input into the programs that are put into place. Through a successful corporate wellness program, we can have the entire workplace community doing their best to secure the overall success and well-being of the company. Building employee trust begins with engagement at all levels. People are more likely to support things that they have helped build and have had some input into the programs.

A few ways to improve engagement are:

  • Choose a health committee staffed by employees at all levels of the company to help determine the programs that are implemented.
  • Empower the Health committee by giving them responsibility for watching metrics on participation.
  • Heath Committee performs frequent surveys to ensure that the programs are well received by the employee population.
  • Allow the Health Committee to make adjustments in the program to ensure it is meeting the needs of the employees and gives them a sense of ‘being heard’.

Address the Individual

We live in a very disconnected society, in a large company HR only knows people by their employee number, and we communicate through text messages, e-mails and Facebook. Even at the gym, people feel like they are just another face in the crowd, known only by a membership ID card. Programs fail because they don’t address each individual. Every employee has different issues, needs and goals.

By using an internal resource like a Health committee to build programs, a wellness provider will be more successful in building a program that meets the employee’s needs and treats each employee like an individual. Employers are more likely to meet their wellness goals and implement popular programs if frequent surveys make sure that the programs put into place meet the needs of all employees. For example, if there is a large concern about working out in front of coworkers, a company can implement a fitness program that focuses on guided individual goals like virtual walking tours and Evolution.

Lead by Example

Many wellness programs fail because of no buy-in from senior leadership. This can result in a number of things from lack of company funding and lack of management support in developing and implementing new wellness policies. Lack of management support can be demonstrated in a number of ways; from failure to support policies on flex time by creating an environment that subordinates don’t feel comfortable in taking flex time to work out, to ignoring company policies about appropriate healthy food for meetings. For the reasons listed above, a successful program needs full leadership support. Finally, there is a lack of data to guide and direct corporate wellness program initiatives. Company wellness goals and metrics need to be incorporated into the overall wellness plan. This strategy will ensure that the company goals and benefit plan design dovetails with the wellness strategy.

In summary, an implementation of a wellness program should be managed by a provider that has a depth of knowledge in areas beyond a singular solution. Successful corporate wellness programs touch all levels of an organization and require feedback and buy in from all levels. If you have a program that doesn’t have good participation a good start is to contact a wellness provider to conduct a Company wellness assessment to help build a successful plan.

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  1. 20 Mar, 2019

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