02 November 2021

Organisational wellbeing programs becomes more successful when employees get actively involved

Increasing the efficiency of the wellbeing programs implemented across your organisation depends on how effectively the program is promoted across your workforce as this will raise awareness and keep employees actively involved. According to research, companies with 31% of the employees participating in wellbeing programs actively see higher productivity gains (%16 vs. %5) than companies with less than 30%. Comparative analysis based on such figures points out that companies gain advantages at their bottom lines if their employees are actively and consistently involved in the organisation’s wellbeing program. (Accordingly, an additional 10% in employee activation predicts an additional 23.4% improvement   and +$.0347 in HC ROI Ratio.) Not surprisingly, higher rates of participation in employee wellbeing programs are more likely to create a long-lasting impact while at the same time increasing ROI. 

It is essential for Human Resources professionals to cooperate with a dependable solution partner to oversee the implementation. Leadership buy-in is equally important, and you should ensure that senior leaders and directors are on the same page and support this new wellbeing movement. To ensure this, you may need to answer some questions from the top management on topics such as ROI, budget, staffing, communication tools, activity planning, and the wellbeing program provider. At next stage, your wellbeing solution partner will carry out the process from inception and launch through implementation and evaluation in a close cooperation with various organisational segments including HR, IT and management. 

Depending on the organization’s purpose and objectives, it is instrumental to define relevant KPIs for measuring the effectiveness of the well-being strategy over time. As a second step, it is particularly vital to have a strategy in place for technology onboarding. It accelerates and contextualises testing phases while at the same time spreading digital culture throughout the entire organisation. During onboarding meetings, the team should clearly agree upon the potential benefits of the new technology to users (employees) and exchange their ideas during and after onboarding to see how the process can be improved further. Senior level support is just as much important to ensure a smooth adoption and transition to the new wellbeing technology platform. Leaders and management play a crucial role in establishing and sustaining a culture of wellness; therefore, they should take the lead and be actively involved in the kickoff and rollout.  During these initial steps, you should also consider creating an internal and employee-driven wellbeing team which will include a variety of people from all levels of your company. The primary responsibilities of the wellbeing team are to assess employee needs and preferences and assist in implementing, monitoring and evaluating wellbeing activities. Providing HR teams with trainings will facilitate the use of new technology and make the adoption process less time-consuming and more effective. IT professionals are another key role players. Regular meetings should be held between the wellbeing program provider and IT team of the company to define the necessary actions which will ensure a hassle-free and smooth transition. 

And the big day comes when you are ready to launch the company’s new wellbeing initiative. In this step, consider how to make features of the wellbeing app eye-catching, exciting and fun. The target is to generate interest around the initiatives and get people talking. Holding live sessions with invited experts is another great way to provide the support that some employees seek when they face a new initiative. Taking the first steps to build a well-designed wellbeing program and integrate it into the core of the business is critical to create a culture of wellness, and yet employee participation is a must for your new wellbeing program to thrive. 


This study conducted by VitalityHealth explicitly indicates that organisations are more than willing to launch wellbeing programmes at their workplaces; however, there is obviously a need for guidance on how to implement a programme effectively to encourage employees to participate. 

So, what are the most effective strategies to get employees excited to embrace the wellbeing initiatives?

  • Spreading the word

Ongoing communication through different means over an extended period of time is particularly effective to maintain engagement in the wellbeing program. For maximum effect, communications should be personal, and so it is always better to target your communications to relevant employee groups based on their locations, demographics, job functions and interests. As developing an employee wellbeing program for Bayer, a global innovation company specialised in the fields of life sciences concerning health and nutrition, Wellbees identified the need for introducing the program to a hybrid workforce, some of which are on-site employees, and achieving the highest possible installation rates in the wake of the launch. To ensure this, we implemented certain strategies such as sending constant reminders, gaining departmental management support and organising two launches at different dates as this would be the most effective way to meet the needs of a hybrid workforce. Besides, before Wellbees took the floor, the HR Director and the project representative of the company delivered a speech, which definitely increased attention towards the project among employees. At the end of the day, this eye-catching and meticulously-designed event was all-high inducing, and %48 of the employees installed Wellbees app within just one week. During the week after the launch, App installation and usage documents were made easily accessible to the employees, regular reminders were sent via intranet and occupational physicians promoted the program. These follow-up strategies worked very well to increase the initial participation rates gained at the launch event. 

Most expectedly, some of the employees will be more ‘enthusiastic’ to adopt and participate in the wellbeing activities as they will have already developed an intrinsic motivation to lead a healthy life while some of your employees will be more ‘conservative’ and therefore need further motivation. When you spot those employees that are actively engaged, make them your wellbeing champions. By using your internal communications platform, you can show the workplace about these early-adopters’ successes. The champions should connect with one another and also with late-adopters to offer encouragement and drive the engagement. And do not underestimate the power of storytelling, too. Encourage your early-adopter employees to share how they have used the program’s services to improve their physical, social, emotional, and overall wellbeing. Expert advice is as much effective in creating lasting behavioural change as wellbeing champions. That was exactly what we needed to achieve at DGF. We organised a series of webinars for DGF’s people where leading experts were invited as speakers to trigger and maintain change by helping employees adopt new habits. Top management brought up webinars led by experts as one of its top agenda items during almost each meeting. The webinars were highly acclaimed across the organisation, as a consequence of which two times more employees started seeking for expert advice as compared to the previous rates of employees who consulted experts.  

  • Challenges & Incentives

As a creative way of motivating people into action, the concept of gamification combines technology and game-playing to encourage employees to complete challenges, either alone or with their peers, thus helping them achieve their goals. 

Incentives or rewards create habit-building interactions and positive behavioural change for your people by encouraging individuals to participate and complete wellbeing challenges. It is important to distinguish extrinsic rewards from intrinsic rewards, though. Because it is in fact intrinsic rewards or desire that create a real and long-lasting positive habits.  When we give extrinsic rewards like cash, gift cards, or a T-shirt for participation, we can induce some interest in the new behaviour; however, this will be immediate and mostly short-term interest. The challenge is to help every single employee transition from external incentives to intrinsic reinforcement. To achieve this, you should always make sure participants know what all the benefits are and what they will gain in the long-term if they keep on participating the wellbeing program. As Wellbees, we are quite content with the results gained from ‘step challenges’ as they contribute to overall wellbeing of the employees and induce them to adopt new and healthier habits. At Unilever, only one of the many companies we organise this challenge, three times more employees participated in annual step challenge as compared to the previous years. The challenge lasted 31 days with the participation of 481 employees, and the recorded program installation rate was %44.  It was great to see that employees were the fully active users (100%) of the program during two months. Having reached the defined step goal, saplings were planted for Algida Hapiness Forest. Again in another challenge organised at a different company, each participant employee donated 1000 Turkish liras after a number of forests were burned during seasonal wildfires, and the company doubled up these donations. At each single challenge, we aim to encourage the individual to lead physically more dynamic and healthier life but at the same time help the notions of fun and cooperation integrate into the organisational culture and nourish the togetherness and friendly competitiveness among colleagues. 

  • Participation of the leaders and managers 

Research shows that strong leadership can play a crucial role in increasing participation rates in corporate wellbeing programs.  Leaders should be open and equip themselves with necessary skills to create a transparent and welcoming culture in which individuals feel cared, valued and appreciated for the person who they are. Many organisations find it useful to include leaders’ sincere messages or stories about their own wellbeing path in the corporate wellbeing bulletins or other communication tools. This kind of storytelling can make great strides in the success of your company’s wellbeing program. At a leading Turkey-based company operating in power distribution and retail, for which we developed the concept of ‘Bless to your Energy’, the utmost priority was to revitalise the participation rates and spread the impact across the organisation. We organised a live event which started with the opening speech of the CEO and was complemented with sharing the opinions of wellbeing representatives. This played a big role in restoring the attention of the employees towards the program. In fact, we saw an installation rate 81% while 64% were enrolled as active users, a rate going beyond the initial goal metric defined by Wellbees. 


  • Evaluate the success

At the rollout of any wellbeing program, it is critical for employers and vendors to have established metrics as well as begin analysing data from the outset and again at certain intervals to assess whether the program is effective. Different kinds of metrics and baselines may be specified by considering the design of the program. For example, you may want to measure percentage of expert usage, number of active users, product involvement rates, installation rate or notification opening rates. 

And for more qualitative feedback on your program, you may adopt routine pulse surveys to find out how your employees feel about the opportunity to participate in the wellbeing activities. These kinds of pulse surveys are great evaluative tools to hear from them whether they feel valued, heard, and cared for as members of the company. They will ensure you to better understand where your people are at their wellbeing journey and what needs to be done to align the existing wellbeing strategies with personal goals and interest. 

As 2019 Global happiness and well-being policy report indicates there are a considerable amount of studies which show that well-being is positively correlated with employee productivity, organizational profitability, customer satisfaction, and employee retention. Therefore, providing a well-thought-out employee wellbeing program has been increasingly brought to the forefront of the agenda as a corporate responsibility but also as a strategy to boost employees’ engagement, morale and resilience, all of which help improve employee experience. A workplace wellbeing program should not just be the responsibility of the HR departments but it should be implemented in a close collaboration among various segments of the organisation including management, IT and employees themselves. And your wellbeing initiative is more likely to be successful when you are teamed with a wellbeing program provider which commits itself to creating a world where everyone reaches his or her potential while caring for each other. If a memorable launch and transition to new digital wellbeing platform across the company paves the very first steps towards a holistic and human-centric corporate wellness culture, the rest depends on ensuring and sustaining high rates of employee participation in the program.  Ongoing communications through multiple modalities, effective use of incentives and rewards, strong leadership endorsement, and the evaluation of the program through defined metrics and measurements are key to ensuring that each employee feels engaged and committed to the wellbeing program and overall culture developing within your organization. Obviously, designing and adopting a robust wellbeing program successfully requires a lot of ideas and a heavy load of work. Therefore, according to the size and needs of your organisation, it may be more sensible to partner with capable and driven professionals who specialize in designing and delivering well-being programs. 











Burcu Uluçay

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