Communication Key to Wellness Program Success

August 20, 2012 ( - Employers counting on wellness programs to bend the benefits cost curve must include strong communication plans in their strategy if they hope to achieve their goals, a paper contends.

The white paper released by Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, “Well on the Way: Engaging Employees in Workplace Wellness,” indicates nearly 90% of employees say the range of a company’s health and wellness benefits is either very important or somewhat important in their choice of an employer, yet these employees still might not participate in wellness programs because of lack of information. Fifty-seven percent of employers believe their employees have a good understanding of the health and wellness programs offered and how to participate, but only 41% of employees agree they have a strong grasp of the programs offered.  

Most employers cite weak employee engagement as the biggest obstacle to changing their employees’ health-risk behavior, the white paper reports, but more than half of workers say they do not know enough about their company’s wellness programs to participate in them. A new Colonial Life survey found 52% of workers whose employers offer wellness programs say they are only somewhat or not at all knowledgeable about them. Lack of knowledge is higher among younger workers, less educated workers and lower-paid workers. 

Surveys with more than 20,000 employees who met individually with a benefits communication counselor show nearly all (96%) said it improved their understanding of benefits, and 98% said the interaction was important. Beefing up communication through one-to-one benefits counseling can help drive participation in a company’s wellness offerings, as well as improve understanding and appreciation of the entire benefits package.  

“Communication that clearly delineates the benefits of participation to employees is the first step to long-term engagement in wellness programs,” said Steve Bygott, assistant vice president of marketing analysis and programs at Colonial Life.  

The white paper uses proprietary and industry research and case studies to show how wellness initiatives can help employers control health care and benefits costs, as well as the vital role of benefits communication in driving the effectiveness of these programs.  

The white paper can be downloaded from