Practical Tips for Getting Your
Employees Internally Motivated Toward Wellness
employees to participate in wellness programs consistently tops the
list of problems for wellness professionals each year, according to our
Management Leadership Surveys.
42 percent of respondents to one Wellness
Program Management Advisor survey cited motivation as the
biggest obstacle they've found in initiating or operating a wellness
some wellness managers said they are looking for increased employee
participation in programs or boosts to current low participation rates,
others said they are combating the problems of "apathy" and maintaining
individuals' interest once they are enrolled in programs.
respondents, for example, said getting people to commit to their
program - particularly a comprehensive, multi-session program - was a
they participate (i.e., flu shots, etc.); long-term, fitness teams,
they don't want to commit," one wellness manager explained.
think this phenomenon shows that time management is a wellness service
we should invest in," said a program director with 15 years of
experience in wellness program management. "I've been hearing about
this same problem for at least a decade."
veterans acknowledge the task is difficult, you can help your program
participantsdevelop internal motivation.
wellness and health promotion programs seek to externally motivate
individuals to participate - that is, the desire to participate is
grounded in anticipation of some reward (e.g., financial incentives,
T-shirts, and so on). However, if an individual is internally motivated
- no external rewards involved - the likelihood of that person making
long-term behavioral change is greater, some industry experts say.
employees internally motivated is not an impossible ideal, according to
Chip Gay, exercise physiologist with Immanuel St. Joseph's
Hospital/Mayo Health System, Mankato, Minn.
fact, during a Wellness
Program Management Advisor-sponsored conference, Gay
related several key points that will assist you in helping employees
and program participants develop internal motivation.
he said, you must develop programs based on what the individual or
group wants, and make it realistic.
you tell people what to do, you immediately put up barriers - 'Who are
you to tell me what to do?'" Gay explained.
is to start gradually. There are no quick fixes and doing too much can
be overwhelming, he added.
as a guide, not a director.
offer help unless asked. You want to encourage participants to
ask questions. "If they're asking the questions, they're going to be
more motivated," explained Gay.
to employees. You want to know not only what they want to do and
what they are willing to do, but what they can do, he said.
them that it is not difficult and does not require a huge time
employees "do their own thing."
and act on what you teach and expect of others - as a worksite
wellness coordinator and as a business.
is power. Increase your knowledge as well as the knowledge of
also want to help reduce individuals' stress - simply - by helping them
improve their self-confidence, Gay said. One way to help build
self-confidence is to help these individuals succeed. If they succeed
at something they didn't think they could do, their self-confidence
will increase, he said. Other effective stress-busters: don't judge
other people; don't compare yourself to others; and delete the need to
understand other people's behavior.
is the best thing for improving internal motivation, Gay added.
it fun and enjoyable and people will participate," he said. And,
finally, variety is the spice of wellness.
bigger variety [of programs] you can offer, the more people you can
hit," Gay said.