by Beth Shepard   Beth's profile on LinkedIn  

You work hard to offer top-notch, engaging wellness programs and services — so why don’t more people participate… is it something you said? Maybe.

How you communicate about your workplace wellness program shapes perception — and, like it or not, perception is reality. Traditional bulletins containing just the facts are boring. Heavy-handed or patronizing messages are offputting. Instead, use lessons from self-determination theory (SDT) to carefully craft communications that appeal and inspire.

Feed the Needs

In Why We Do What We Do (Penguin, 1995), researcher Edward Deci explains SDT principles. To be self-motivated for any task, people need a sense of autonomy, competence, and interpersonal connectedness. Daniel Pink addresses some of the same concepts in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Riverhead Books, 2009). Pink points out that “only engagement can produce mastery (competence) — becoming better at something that matters.”

by Beth Shepard   Beth's profile on LinkedIn  

Design your wellness program to support autonomy, competence, and connectedness:


  • Ditch the financial incentives and penalties. If participation isn’t voluntary, fat chance the behavior will last when the carrot or stick goes away.
  • Offer multiple entry points so employees can join when they’re ready, not on an externally driven timeline.
  • Allow choices whenever possible: individual vs. team participation; specific activities and goals; variety of times and places.
by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

health promotion aimed at the right target

If you want to encourage healthier eating patterns, promote nutrition services directly, right? Not necessarily. Sometimes it’s more effective to adjust your aim toward another target. Here are some examples.

Nutrition for Men

  • Pack Your Dad’s Lunch Week — Publish a set of healthy lunches kids can make for their dad. Encourage fathers to reward children who complete the activity by spending special time with them.
by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

Sustained (though slow) growth in the economy has spurred new recruitment and hiring in the last year. For more than 30 years, wellness managers have claimed worksite programs offer a recruitment advantage. Yet few programs we know have a plan for presenting services in the best light to potential/new employees; even fewer have a method to judge their effect.

Greater recruitment and hiring activity are opportunities to demonstrate added value and increase participation. Consider these steps: