How to Get Employee Buy-in to Your Wellness Program

Employee buy-in is a crucial part of every wellness program.  It is second only in importance to the actual development of a health and wellness plan.  Buy-in, therefore, should be a concern for every employer with a wellness program.  It is not only important in the implementation of the program, but throughout the program’s longevity.  Four key elements can aid HR professionals in obtaining employee buy-in.

Management Support

Management support is an important factor in gaining employee buy-in. The support of both direct managers and senior management sets a positive example of health and wellness to your employees. This will help establish a wellness culture throughout the organization and boost employee morale.  The type of management support that impacts employee buy-in the most includes:

  •     Verbal communication of policy and program support
  •     Management participation in wellness program activities
  •     Providing work time for program activities and events
  •     Implementing policy and procedure changes for the program
  •      Allocating funds for staffing, equipment, programs and incentives

These actions will greatly encourage employees to participate, and ensure greater success of your wellness initiatives.


Personalising your wellness program will ensure greater employee buy-in and participation.  Employees who are truly interested in your program’s activities will more likely participate for the duration of the program, and motivate others to do so as well.  Surveys and feedback provides the most direct and most accurate information on your employees’ interests.  This should be done periodically and across all departments and functions of the organization.

For multi-unit employers, this could mean different activities in different locations.  Match the activities to your employees’ interest, even if it means having a smoking cessation plan in one office, but not in another.  As long as your activities match that particular office’s culture, the program will succeed.


Spread the word about your program at the implementation phase, using the right tools for your particular group.  If your employees respond to visuals, create colorful posters or short videos to get their attention. Continue communication on an on-going basis to ensure the most interest and participation.  This will increase the success of your program for years to come.

Rely on employee feedback to make any changes to your communication methods.  Also, always encourage open communication between your employees and the wellness committee – they are the front lines of the program. Employee buy-in will continue if your employees feel their opinions and concerns are being addressed.


Incentives provide an instant boost to employee buy-in.  Most employees are interested in what’s in it for them so receiving a little incentive will often prompt them to participate.  Incentives can range anywhere from gift vouchers to raffle tickets for a HDTV or iPAD.  These can be awarded for accomplishing health goals or participation in a health risk assessment.

Avoid using too many incentives too often and for the wrong reasons. They can lose value if they are obtained too easily or are too large or too small in relation to the goal.  Remember that incentives are productive in the long run, but setting them in place for continued participation may backfire.

The bottom line

Employee buy-in is an important part of any wellness plan.  Without it, many plans have been known to crumble before they’ve even begun.  HR professionals, therefore, should verify that their plan has sufficient management support, program personalisation, effective communication, and the right incentives in order to gain the support of employees.  Their commitment will allow the organization, as a whole, to successfully deliver their mission of health and wellness.

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