Three Reasons Why Your Workplace Well-Being Program Is Not Working

Lack of Organisational Commitment

What we see regularly with regards to workplace well-being is a lack of “buy-in” from senior management or the executive team. Put simply, if the company CEO is spruiking workplace wellness to drive productivity and boost morale all whilst stuffing a meat-pie in their gob, chances are the program will fall flat and the money is being misspent.

We see often a push for workplace wellness as “it’s the right thing to do” OR “this will help get the most out of our employees”, however they are by-products not the reasons for. As often workplace health and well-being are seen as not an essential service, we find that without executive support and belief in workplace wellness/health that quite simply it will always fail. Now we are not saying a company CEO must be a triathlete, however they must truly believe in the benefits of workplace wellness and live it. This means participation from all levels. I once heard a great saying that “A fish smells from the head down” so if the company CEO is not involved on some level in wellness then the employees will see it’s a token gesture and also not participate, defeating the purpose of the program.

No Effective Screening & Training

Telling your employees that they should use the building gym and/or participate in the ‘steps’ challenge won’t cut it. Effective screening and training means having expert allied health professionals provide individual advice on their health and how to get the best out of their wellness program for long-term success and greater outcomes. They also need to be included on business goals BEFORE being engaged so they can link the wellness program to said objectives.

One size does NOT fit all in workplace well-being.

Often the super fit employees are keen and eager to participate in whatever, however the company has missed the other 70% of the workforce and 10-20% of those deemed ‘at-risk’. Having a blended solution of one on one consultation with an allied health professional sees vast improvements in engagement and ROI.

Not Evaluating the Effectiveness

Unfortunately, some organisations will use anecdotal evidence for well-being program success or lack thereof rather than quantitative or qualitative.

All too often we see excuses for well-being program cessation that goes along the lines of “we tried that and nobody turned up” OR “People here just prefer to do their job and not get involved”. Sadly, this is a disconnect between those engaging the program and their fellow employees which can easily be rectified with an appropriate awareness and education campaign based on qualitative data on employees, their health, goals and needs as well as the physical requirements of the roles within the company.

All wellness programs MUST be linked to business objectives so that employees see the purpose and the benefits.


Ryan O’Connor (B.Sc. – Sports, Grad Dip. OH&S)
Director – Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) (ESSAM)


Pelletier, K. R. (2011). A review and analysis of the clinical and cost-effectiveness studies of comprehensive health promotion and disease management programs at the worksite: Update VIII 2008 to 2010. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine / American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine53(11), 1310-1331.