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5 Ways to Boost Participation Rates

Encouraging participants to take part in your wellness program is one of the most important parts of operating a successful program. If you're just launching your wellness program, expect a 20 to 50 percent participation rate the first year.

It takes time to gain support, motivate participants, and create a culture of health. But consistent effort will pay off. Many organizations see participation rates rise 70 to 100 percent in just a few years.

Here are five effective ways to improve participation:

  1. Make the wellness program a social activity. People like to be part of something – such as a club, team, or even a social media group. Host group fitness classes, lectures, or cooking classes. Organize an event that will bring people together, and make it fun.

  2. Recruit wellness ambassadors. Find participants in your organization who are health-minded, and invite them to take part in and become champions for your wellness program. Companies that take this approach often see participation rates double. That's because many people wait and see how others fare before they'll try something.

  3. Invite significant others to participate too. When people have a support group at work and at home who value wellness, they're more likely to stick with the program.

  4. Offer incentives. Wellness programs that use incentives have much higher overall participation rates. Even the types of incentives influence participation. Cash incentives and discounts on health insurance premiums can help you achieve participation rates of 50 to 80 percent.

    Other motivating incentives include gift cards and gym membership discounts. Creating outcomes-based incentives can also have a powerful effect..

    You know your employee population best. Choose incentives that you think will motivate them to participate. And if you want a more direct answer, ask them in an email or employee survey.

  5. Recognize accomplishments. Recognize the accomplishments of your participants. If you hear about an employee losing weight, running a race, quitting smoking, or some other achievement, talk to them. Invite them to share their story, or highlight them in your wellness newsletter. It's a great way to encourage that person and motivate others.

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