Motivating and incenting employees to participate in their organization’s wellness programs is a heavily cited concern of wellness and health promotion professionals responding to the “Workplace Wellness Management Survey,” sponsored by WellnessJunction.

Among the expressed concerns of wellness managers were such comments as:

• getting employees to "buy in";
• participation and commitment;
• getting people engaged and participating;
• ample time for the employee to participate in any programming;
• how to retain employees once they are engaged in the program;
• the lack of individual employee motivation;
• getting people to use their memberships; and
• motivating additional participation.

The problem is employees "have so many work-related time constraints that sometimes it is difficult to get them to see wellness programs as a good use of their already limited time," said a corporate nurse practitioner.

"People start off with a great deal of enthusiasm, but unless continual reinforcement or some kind of incentive is offered, they tend to fall out ... participation drops," said a corporate wellness coordinator.

The link between incentives and participation was brought up by another survey respondent who cited incentive-based (premium reduction) health coverage that rewards plan participants who attain personal health improvement goals as an issue.

"The healthcare system as we know it in America will financially self-destruct in the near future if more creative approaches are not introduced," said G. Gregory Tooker, president and principal consultant of a wellness services company. "Dollar savings incentives through reduction of personal health risk is the only way to move the majority of the population to change its lifestyle."

The balance between the promotion of wellness efforts "while many organizations are tasking employees to a greater extent in terms of productivity and output expectations and demanding longer hours in the workplace" is a dilemma, believes an EAP director.