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How You Can Make Workplace Wellness Work

Current surveys show that while the majority of employers offer a workplace wellness program, an overwhelming percentage of employees-as many as 80 percent by one estimate-are opting out of those programs. Recent conversations, including a University of Illinois study about the impact of workplace wellness, have focused on how wellness doesn’t work. Researchers in studies like this one rightly point out that most workplace wellness initiatives struggle with low rates of engagement. If you’ve followed the traditional workplace wellness program protocol, you’ve probably assessed employee health status, provided feedback on risk factors, and then matched employees with interventions that teach them how to change their behaviors. The upshot is that simply offering workplace wellness is not enough. While your endorsement may create a broader acceptance for well-being on an organizational level, every employee is likely looking to their boss to “Give them permission” to actually engage in wellness. According to Gallup, managers likely account for 70 percent of the variance in how individual employees engage with their work and their wellbeing.

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