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Secret of Employee Wellness Success Is Long-Term Engagement

April 27, 2011 / Employee Engagement

More and more U.S. businesses are offering incentives-based corporate wellness programs that claim to improve workforce health and help employers lower healthcare costs.  Yet average participation rates in such programs hover around 15 percent.  With such low participation rates, how can employers expect to see successful workforce health improvements from their investments?  The key to success with employee wellness initiatives is not only in getting employees to participate, but motivating them to stay engaged over time. 

“We know people are motivated by different things at different points in time, so we provide a wide range of motivators to keep employees engaged for the long haul: goal setting, progress tracking, feedback, financial incentives, competition and social motivation,” says Tom Abshire, senior vice president of marketing and member engagement for Virgin HealthMiles.  “With participation rates nearly three times the industry average, we excel at getting and keeping members engaged in long-term healthy behavior change.  This helps prevent the onset of costly chronic conditions and diseases impacting businesses and their employees today.”

Consider this: chronic diseases drive 75 percent of healthcare spending, of which 95 percent is spent on managing current cases of disease.  Just five percent of healthcare spending is focused on preventing chronic diseases, which are growing globally in epidemic proportions.  With most U.S. businesses covering some or all or their employees’ healthcare premiums, corporations must shift their focus to prevention in order to bend the healthcare cost curve. The only way to do this successfully is to get and keep employees engaged in prevention-focused wellness efforts over the long-term. 

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