Most organizations understand that when employees feel good they perform better, which is why just over half of employers now have a wellness program. But are employees utilizing it? The research says no. According to Harvard Business Review, less than one-third of employees engage with the health programs their organizations offer.

With wellness programs presenting an opportunity for businesses to actively invest in their employees’ happiness and health, it is time to boost that engagement! The key is to develop a culture of wellness that genuinely makes a difference to employee well-being. Here are three tips for how you can achieve this:

1.   Increase Awareness

A person’s wellness — overall physical, mental, social and environmental health — permeates everything they do. If they are feeling happy and healthy, they will interact more with the world around them. But if they are feeling stressed or unwell, they will be less engaged and more pessimistic.

Happiness greatly affects work outcomes. Happy employees stay in their jobs longer, are more productive and provide better customer service. Not to mention that physically healthy employees miss fewer days at work.

If executed correctly, employer-provided wellness programs can positively impact employee happiness and health. Moreover, employee participation in wellness programs reduces employer healthcare costs by providing proactive (rather than reactive) healthcare.

But to achieve these benefits, employees must engage with your wellness program. Unfortunately, most wellness offerings are underused because many employees are unaware of their company-provided health benefits or don’t know how to use them.

In most cases, lack of engagement is not attributable to the benefits themselves, but a lack of internal promotion. So, improving employee engagement does not necessarily require changes to your wellness program. Instead, it involves raising awareness with both current and new employees.

2.   Create a Culture of Wellness

By helping employees become the best version of themselves, you can improve their well-being on the job and off. Widespread participation in wellness programs will not happen overnight, but there are several things you can do to develop a culture of wellness that creates results:

  • Provide Personal Coaching

Wellness looks and feels different to everyone. Some of my employees find that morning meditation helps them start their day. Others prefer more physical activities, like yoga or running.

A wellness coach can help employees find the right wellness activities for them, set achievable goals and track their progress. A health and wellness expert can also hold them accountable — people are more committed to their goals when they share them with someone whose opinions they respect. But coaching should be optional or it will feel like a chore rather than a benefit.

If you do not have a dedicated wellness expert, perhaps provide training to a member of your HR team or see whether your insurance provider offers coaching.

  • Incorporate Wellness Into the Onboarding Process

Onboarding integrates new employees into your company and its culture. By defining what wellness means to your organization and introducing your benefits during onboarding, you will show new employees their well-being is a priority.

Research indicates that when employees feel cared about by their employers, they’re more likely to stay at the company for more than three years, less likely to feel stress and burnout, and likely to feel more engaged at work.

Set up a one-on-one coaching session during the first week of onboarding, so employees can learn why wellness is important and ask questions. Even if they do not continue with coaching, this first step will help them feel supported and get them thinking about their well-being.

  •  Inspire Employees Through Culture-building Activities

Wellness is a personal commitment — no one else can do it on your behalf. So, inspiring that commitment in employees is essential.

Executives can regularly share wellness accomplishments to show that well-being is prioritized at all levels of the organization. It may be something large, like the completion of a marathon. But more often it’s a small achievement that employees can easily replicate, like taking a mindfulness course. Employees can also volunteer to serve as wellness ambassadors and champion the cause with their colleagues.

Another way you can incentivize and inspire wellness is through competitions. This creates a supportive culture and prompts conversations about wellness.

3.   Unlock Employee Greatness

Benefits alone are not enough to improve your employees’ physical and mental well-being. By creating a culture of wellness and ensuring every employee feels great, you inspire and support a commitment to their own health and well-being. The result is that your employees will be happier, healthier, more productive and more engaged — both in their personal and professional lives. Which translates into a greater overall performance for your business.