Why People Do — and Don’t — Participate in Wellness Programs

Employers want healthy, happy and productive employees, and they often turn to wellness program as the answer. But getting employees to take action — to actually participate in these programs — well, that’s another story.

We recently surveyed 465 full-time employees from companies that currently offer a health, wellness, and fitness program, as part of our ongoing efforts to understand the rapidly changing needs of both wellness program participants and those who don’t take part. Our findings point to ways employers can maximize the significant potential of their wellness programs by focusing on some of the more elusive drivers that move employees to participate.

First, when people reported participating in a wellness program, they noted greater satisfaction with the activities offered, they perceived themselves as healthier and more productive at work, and they had a more positive attitude toward their employer. Perhaps not surprising, 79% percent of employee participants say they are extremely satisfied with their wellness program, compared to 41% of employee nonparticipants. They also indicated they were more likely than nonparticipants to stay with their employer and to refer someone to the company.

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