Meaghan sheds some light on the main reasons why organizations don’t always see the people who need it most participating in their wellness programs and what they can do to help change this.

In today’s fast-paced and demanding work environments, promoting employee well-being has become a top priority for organizations. Workplace wellness programs are designed to improve employee health, enhance productivity, and foster a positive work culture. However, despite the numerous benefits they offer, companies may struggle to achieve the participation rates they want to see in their wellness initiatives. The key to unlocking greater engagement lies in understanding the employee’s readiness to change.

Understanding the Concept

The readiness to change is a psychological concept that refers to an individual’s willingness and preparedness to make behavioural changes. In the context of workplace wellness programs, it signifies an employee’s motivation and commitment to adopt healthier habits and actively participate in the program. (Watch Meaghan’s video above for a more in-depth discussion on the 5 phases of employee readiness to change.)

Organizations need to create and layer their wellness programs according to the culture of the workplace and the needs and preferences of their employees. Wellness programs often face resistance from employees due to a variety of factors such as time constraints, lack of interest, or skepticism about the program’s effectiveness or relevance to their personal situation or interests. Understanding employees’ readiness to change enables employers to identify and address these barriers effectively, fostering a supportive environment that encourages participation and ideally long-term behaviour change.

Effectively communicating the benefits and goals of wellness programs is crucial in driving participation. Employers can tailor their communication strategies to resonate with employees at different stages of readiness. This approach ensures that the right messages are delivered at the right time, increasing the likelihood of engagement.

Implementing surveys or assessments that gauge employees’ attitudes, interests, and motivation towards wellness initiatives can provide valuable insights. These tools can help identify employees’ current stage of readiness, allowing organizations to design targeted initiatives accordingly. It’s important to remember that readiness to change is not static and can evolve over time. Regularly monitoring and evaluating employee engagement and participation levels allows organizations to adapt their wellness programs accordingly, ensuring ongoing alignment with employees’ changing needs.

The Importance of Awareness-Based Programming

Many companies tend to focus their time and resources on wellness initiatives that cater to employees already engaged in and maintaining healthy habits. While it’s important to support and encourage these individuals, the greatest potential for positive impact and change lies in reaching employees who may not be actively pursuing healthy lifestyles. This is where awareness-based programming plays a crucial role in a comprehensive wellness program as it builds the want and motivation for healthy changes.

  • Breaking Barriers and Dispelling Myths: Many individuals hold misconceptions or face barriers that prevent them from engaging in healthy behaviours. Awareness-based programming can address these misconceptions and debunk myths by providing accurate and evidence-based information. This helps to overcome resistance and increase receptiveness to new ideas and behaviour changes.
  • Increasing Knowledge and Skills: Awareness-based programming equips employees with the necessary knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about their well-being. By providing educational resources, workshops, or activities, organizations empower employees with the tools they need to initiate and sustain healthy changes in their lives.
  • Shifting Mindsets and Cultivating a Culture of Wellness: Creating a culture of wellness requires a shift in mindset from passive acceptance of unhealthy habits to an active pursuit of well-being. Awareness-based programming helps individuals recognize the importance of prioritizing their health and well-being, leading to a collective shift in organizational culture.
  • Encouraging Early Intervention and Prevention: By promoting awareness and early intervention, organizations can prevent health issues from escalating. Awareness-based programs can highlight the importance of preventive measures, such as regular health screenings, stress management techniques, and healthy lifestyle choices. This proactive approach can significantly reduce healthcare costs and absenteeism while promoting overall employee well-being.

Understanding the role of employee readiness to change is essential for increasing wellness program participation. It’s important for organizations to recognize that reaching employees who may need wellness support the most requires patience and a long-term perspective. Building the desire and motivation for healthy changes takes time. By incorporating awareness-based programming alongside initiatives that support employees who are already committed to their health and well-being, organizations can create a holistic wellness program that addresses the diverse needs of their workforce. With perseverance, dedication, and a focus on fostering a culture of well-being, organizations can gradually reach and engage employees who may benefit the most, leading to improved overall employee well-being and a thriving workplace environment.


1. A common frustration in wellness program delivery is the reality that “the same people participate” in every initiative. Often, there is a disconnect between what is offered as part of the program and who is ready to participate.

2. Take the time to gather the necessary information in designing and planning the strategy. This will optimize participation and engagement within the wellness program. “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t always apply to workplace wellness.

3. How many different ways do you share and communicate your wellness initiatives? Is it repetitive? Inclusive? Is there enough awareness about the initiative? The best wellness plans include multiple touchpoints to ensure there is an opportunity for anyone to learn about it and interact with it.

4. According to a popular Health Promotion Model (JO Prochaska), everyone falls within one of the 5 stages of readiness to change at any given time. It’s a fluid process, so there is a lot of movement between stages. The best wellness plans include the following four components: awareness, participation, engagement, and health improvement.

5. Stop offering programs and initiatives that only speak to those who will participate anyway! Dig deeper through assessments and surveys to gather the rest of the story. What do the metrics tell us? Determine if there is room for more awareness-based programming and how it should be delivered to ensure all bases are covered.

Need some more assistance?

Get your FREE N0-Obligation Strategy Session with Meaghan by emailing us today ( Employee Wellness Solutions Network can help you create a healthier culture resulting in a more profitable and successful workplace. Our memberships give you access to services including corporate wellness specialists, trainers and health coaches to help you create the best strategy for your organization.  To learn more about the memberships, visit Employee Wellness Solutions Network.