8 Tips for Running a Successful Employee Wellness Program

What’s the number one thing job seekers look for when considering a potential employer? A company culture that values its people. Most of us spend the majority of our day in the workplace, so naturally, we want to spend that time in an environment that aligns with our personal values and needs.

Now, more than ever before, employers are struggling to attract and retain quality candidates and job seekers have the leverage to demand more generous benefits, recognition, and work-life balance. One of the most prominent aspects employees look for in this modern job market is how much a potential employer values wellness.

As our society puts more and more value on things like personal fulfilment, vulnerability, mental health, wellness, and personal fulfilment, those topics become increasingly common in the workplace. That being said, it makes perfect sense that one of the most sought-after benefits offered by employers by today’s job seekers is wellness.

There are various types of wellness-focused benefits that employers can offer their people, like gym membership reimbursements, wellness challenges, or rewards for healthy activities. Wellness programs are an exciting way to make employees feel valued, build a more cohesive team, and boost productivity.

So how can employers ensure success for their wellness program? Here are ten helpful tips to increase engagement and get the most out of your company’s wellness program.

Ask your people what they want out of a employee wellness program

One of the more challenging aspects of running a corporate wellness program is keeping your people engaged and motivated. When designing and implementing a wellness program at your company, one of the most important things to know is what motivates your people.

Including activities that don’t excite or interest people will likely result in low engagement and poor results for your program. Some employees may prefer activities with higher intensity, like team sports or running a marathon, while others may gravitate toward activities that are more focused on diet or mental health.

Before designing an effective employee wellness program, it’s important to first have a good understanding of what your people want. A great place to start is by surveying employees to see what type of wellness activities they’re most interested in and what would motivate them to participate.

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You can also use this survey to learn about your employees’ comfort level when it comes to talking about their personal wellness, health, and fitness. It’s important to remember that not everyone will feel comfortable talking about their personal health and to be mindful of the language you use and activities you include in the program.

Determine your goals and desired outcome of the program

Another important step to take before planning the structure of your wellness program is to determine your desired OKR’s. A wellness program doesn’t only benefit employees, employers can reap some major benefits as well when they set the right goals and a plan to achieve them.

Some benefits that a wellness program can provide employers:

Healthy employees are more productive and present

Studies show that employees that lead healthier lifestyles not only take fewer sick or personal days, they are also more present, engaged, and productive at work.

Employee advocacy

A report by the (American Psycholigical Association) APA shows that employees at companies that offer benefits and initiatives that prioritise their health and well-being are 89% more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work.

Increase employee retention

Great benefits, like a wellness or health program, encourage people to do their best work so they can keep those benefits.

Develop an efficient way to manage the employee wellness program

The foundation of a successful employee wellness program is the way that it’s managed. It’s important to consider all the moving parts and how responsibilities will be distributed for different aspects of the program.

For example:

You’ll need to account for how employees’ activities will be tracked and verified. Will you be tracking this manually in-house or will you outsource software that can track these activities automatically?

Someone will need to take on the responsibility of keeping your team engaged throughout the program by sending periodic reminders and milestone announcements.

Assign cross-departmental teams

Another benefit of running a employee wellness program is that it gives your team a fun way to connect over something healthy and non-work-related. Assigning teams comprised of people from different departments who don’t normally interact with one another can create an overall more collaborative, cohesive environment.

For instance, let’s say John from Marketing rarely interacts with Nina from Operations. Putting them on a team together will give them the opportunity to get to know one another and maybe even exchange ideas about ways they can support one another and improve workflow.

Establish a budget

In a perfect world, health and wellness benefits would be free and accessible to all, but a successful wellness program is likely going to require some spending. Whether it’s the time it takes your team to manage the program, software subscriptions, or offering prizes or incentives for your program, it’s important to outline these projected costs and set an official budget beforehand.

Some methods to consider for keeping costs to a minimum:

  1. Reach out to local fitness facilities to see if they offer or would be willing to give your team any group deals or discounts.
  2. See what wellness components your insurance carrier provides. Costs for programs like these are frequently included in your health insurance premium.
  3. Your program doesn’t have to take place in a gym that costs money. Brainstorm as many activities as you can that are little to no-cost, like walking groups or
  4. See what community wellness programs already exist in area that your team could join. Is there a free community yoga session in your city? Browse local groups on sites like Facebook or Meetup to see if there’s a pre-existing run club your team could join.

Determine activities and reward system

There are many different types of employee wellness program and many combinations of activities and rewards you can implement. Some of the more popular types of wellness programs include:


Offering monetary reimbursements for visits to fitness facilities, classes, equipment, etc.

Activity rewards

In this type of employee wellness program, employees would get incentivised rewards for healthy activities like going to the gym, going for a run, or competing in a race. Rewards can be whatever your employees want them to be. Some may be more motivated by benefits, like extra (paid time off) PTO, while others can be more motivated by cash rewards.


Challenges are a great way to get your people excited and engaged. This can include activities centred around nutrition, exercise, financial wellness or mental wellness.


Because of the personal nature of goals, they can be hard to track, so goal-based programs are best facilitated in pairs or teams to increase accountability.

Leagues and events

This would include activities like running a marathon or joining a kickball league

Determine what rewards you want to give and how you want to disburse them. Do you want to deposit cash directly into an HSA? Or maybe you want to offer material prizes like electronics or clothing. Will rewards be given at milestones throughout the program or will they be given in one lump sum at the end?

We suggest disbursing rewards throughout the employee wellness program to keep the motivation going.

How to run a successful employee wellness program

Image: Pexels

Design a plan for marketing and communication around your wellness program

Without consistent reminders and communication to employees around your wellness program, it’s likely that motivation and interest will diminish over time. Keeping your employees informed on progress and sending out reminders and motivational messages is the most effective way to keep their attention.

Some key aspects to consider:

How will you facilitate these communications?

Via email? Will announcements be posted on a bulletin board in the office? Are you able to send your employees mobile notifications or text messages? We recommend starting a group in whichever service you use for internal chat.

Will you need to design any flyers or digital marketing materials?

Maybe someone from your creative/marketing team will want to help out with this. It’s worth an ask!

What types of messages do you want to send and how often? No one wants to be bombarded with notifications, so make sure to space your communications out. We’d recommend something like a weekly motivational message and a bi-weekly progress announcement.

Determine how success for the program will be measured

The benefits that a successful wellness program provides employers can be difficult, but not impossible, to measure. The results employers are looking for from a wellness program are things like increased morale, productivity, employee satisfaction, and retention. These things may seem challenging to gauge, but there are multiple ways to measure each.

Pulse surveys

Send out a simple, anonymous survey every so often to check in with your team and see how they’re feeling.

Monthly check-ins

Periodic relaxed, connection points between employees and HR or their manager are a great way to encourage open, honest communication. Monthly check-ins are a great way to gauge employee satisfaction and tend to issues before they get out of hand.

Measure turnover rate

Happy employees stick around. If you have a high turnover rate, this means your employees are likely not having their needs met and something needs to change.

Offer incentives

Think of a time you’ve set a fitness or wellness goal for yourself. Did you follow through with those goals? If you’re a part of the smaller group of people that would answer yes to that  question, what motivated you to stay on track and achieve those goals?

One of the more challenging aspects of running a corporate wellness program is keeping your people engaged and motivated. When designing and implementing a wellness program at your company, one of the most important things to know is what motivates your people.

Let’s take New Year’s resolutions for example. Fitness goals are one of the most prominent resolutions set at the start of the new year, but are rarely kept. Do you think more people would keep their resolutions if they got paid for it? Research shows they would.

Incentives are a proven way to increase engagement for your wellness program, the most effective incentive being a monetary reward. Different types of incentives you can offer employees are

Financial incentives

These can be offered in many forms such as; contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA), cash bonuses, or even gift cards.


Items like electronics, home goods, clothing, food are all great ways to get employees excited and involved. Who would turn down the opportunity to win a new phone or luxurious espresso machine just for making healthy choices?


Not many of us would turn down the opportunity to be rewarded extra PTO in exchange for making healthier choices.

In Summary

Ultimately, a successful wellness program is one that empowers employees to feel fulfilled, valued, and supported while promoting healthy activities and decision-making. A successful wellness program can offer some fruitful benefits to organisations. We hope this article got your wheels turning for creative ways you can invest in your people.

About the Author

Kelsey McKee is a Content Marketer at IncentFit, a tech-based health and wellness benefits company that makes it simple for employers to reward their people for doing healthy things. Kelsey is an experienced digital strategist and brand marketer that likes to inspire connection and growth.

Team 6Q

Team 6Q