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Wellsource Blog

What Matters to Employees in Wellness Programs?

Written by Wellsource, Inc.

July 03, 2018

Employee Wellness Programs

Sometimes you’ve got to give the people what they want.

B2C companies know this. They constantly update their products and services to appeal to consumers. There are endless opportunities to give feedback. Review sites like Yelp, customer service phone lines, and even comment cards at hotels all allow those offering something insight into the receiver’s wants and needs.


Your wellness program will be more successful if you treat employees like consumers.  

A HealthFitness survey found that employees want their wellness program to be flexible. They want it to be specific to their needs. And they want it to connect them with others who share similar interests. But how can you do that if you don’t know what they need and what they are interested in?

The Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) has identified seven benchmarks of successful workplace wellness programs. One of these benchmarks centers around the idea that data collection should measure what matters most to employees in wellness programs.

So what do employees want? Read more about some of the most requested and effective ways to ensure your wellness program is resonating with your population.

Hit the gym

Most employers know the importance of exercise for maintaining a healthy population. But exercise does more than keep employees healthy, according to a study completed by Brookings Institute. It also keeps them happier and more productive. And guess what? Data from a study conducted by CareerBuilder.com indicates that the second most desirable workplace perk is an on-site fitness center. Employees feel that access to a gym would increase job satisfaction. The employees at Nebraska Medicine were excited about their newfound access to a fitness center. This was evident by the 400 percent increase in fitness center usage after they removed the fee associated.

Stand up and walk

The average American sits 6-8 hours each day, according to the American Heart Association. This increases risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer among other chronic diseases.  But employees would like to spend more time standing and walking throughout the workday. One study found that employees would like to spend 46 more minutes walking and 26 more minutes standing, per 8-hour working day.

A recent research report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) also reported that of the 300+ benefits covered, standing desk requests saw the greatest increase from employees in the last five years, reaching 44 percent in 2017 (up from 13% in 2013).

“An employee's happiness, engagement in their job, and even their productivity all increase when they have the freedom to move throughout their day," said Fully CEO and Founder David Kahl. Fully specializes in bringing movement to the workplace with desks, chairs and accessories. 

"Even the simple act of going from sitting to standing and back again can make a world of difference for how employees feel,” Kahl said.

Employees and Wellness Programs


"An employee's happiness, engagement in their job, and even their productivity all increase when they have the freedom to move throughout their day." 

-David Kahl, Fully CEO & Founder

Read how Fully incorporated more movement into their wellness company.

Read More


Don’t forget mental health

Workplace stress can take a major toll on the health of employees. That’s why it makes sense that employees would like to see stress management programs incorporated into their wellness programs. According to data from a nationwide Harris Poll, 80 percent of employees take advantage of resilience programs, and for 73 percent of participants these programs improved their health.

Wellness Programs for Employees

A penny saved is a penny earned

An area of wellness with rising popularity is financial wellness. Financial worry can distract employees and reduce productivity. Some employers are starting to offer educational programs to their employees, and their employees seem to be interested. In MetLife’s 16th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, 84 percent of respondents said they want or need financial programs such as financial planning or workshops offered at their workplace.

Customization is key

Perhaps one of the most important things that employees want to help motivate them to participate in wellness programs is personalization. Data from a study conducted by wellness company Welltok and the nonprofit National Business Group on Health (NBGH) found that 37 percent of employees who do not participate in their company’s wellness program opt out because they don’t find it personally relevant. Steve Wojcik, Vice President of public policy at NBGH, puts it this way: “Personalization is one way to break through and use what motivates people as individuals.”

Prioritize with data

With all of these options, where do you start? Imagine employees as consumers. Ask them what they would like to see in your wellness program. Get their opinion during staff meetings. Poll them. Get feedback about current and future offerings. Distribute a survey. WELCOA provides surveys and audits to help you customize your wellness program for your employees.

Using data collected from your health risk assessment can also help you discover key trends to make your wellness program more targeted and applicable to your population, improving member engagement.

Employee Wellness Programs

Read more about Emerging Trends for Wellness Programs for inspiration.

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“Personalization is one way to break through and use what motivates people as individuals.”

Steve Wojcik, Vice President of Public Policy National Business Group on Health