Are You Making These Biggest Mistakes in Your Company Wellness Program

Ideas to Prevent the Biggest Wellness Program Mistakes

reason for so much failure in wellness programsAustin, Texas:  If wellness programs are so important for employers to help reduce insurance costs, and so much money is being spent on these programs, why do so many wellness programs fail?

I was a on a blog the other day which was discussing how so many wellness programs fail over a short period of time, and I shared my experience on the major reason for most failure: Poor Communication and Follow up.

I’ve been in the incentive business since 1985…and have always noticed that the keys to any program are the kickoff and the communication–whether it is a sales incentive program, employee incentive or wellness incentive.

You can have the greatest program in the world, but if it is not properly announced, explained, and consistently brought to the attention of the employees, the program will die quickly — or only the most fit employees will participate, because they would have done those goals any way.

Most wellness coordinators tend to spend 95%+ of their time on the logistics of a program — while tending to ignore implementation and communication.

The proper and standard rule of thumb for effective incentive programs is about 80% on rewards and the balance on communication (engagement) and technology.

People are creatures of habit and the goal of a wellness program should be to change behaviors–over time. It takes constant reinforcement, cheer leading, hand holding, encouragement, “atta-boys” and peer recognition before significant nutritional, health and fitness goals can become second nature.

There are no quick fixes.

That being said, communication and engagement are usually the lacking ingredients — either for poor planning, budgetary reasons, loss of interest by the person heading up the program, apathy by the C-Level executives, other time constraints or lack of personnel.

We try to encourage wellness coordinators to have a big wellness program launch to get employees fired up.

Hold raffles and giving out lots of prizes for signing up–imprinted T-Shirts, promotional pedometers, wellness info guides and booklets and sports bottles.

In addition, we also encourage the use of logo promotional merchandise branded with the program’s logo on weekly contests — such as reaching a miles-walked goal, trying a new fitness goal, getting a friend or family member to walk with them one day, etc.

Keeping the program fun and reminding employees that the program is still alive & kicking helps to maintain interest.

As these weekly, monthly or bi-weekly contests are held, peer recognition and program reinforcement takes over–which are the greatest motivator.

That is where we can really help — as those companies that budget 8%-10% of their programs budgets for the kickoff and monthly reminders will be much more successful in keeping the program “top of mind”.

Our company, Wellness, for example, has thousands of wellness-oriented promotional items that can be imprinted with a wellness program’s logo.

Keep inspiring and motivating your employees to push themselves just a little bit further each week – and you will avoid the program failure that too many other wellness programs endure.

Keep reminding your employees of their wellness goals.

Help them keep their eyes on the prize– a healthier lifestyle.

Here’s to a healthier workforce.


Robert Piller is President of, a leading provider of custom-printed promotional items geared exclusively for wellness programs and wellness incentives.

These branded gifts are ideal for wellness incentive rewards, wellness kickoff or announcement gifts or as wellness reminders. Visit to view thousands of wellness rewards and reminders in all price points-including over 800 different promotional pedometer styles in all price ranges.