By Debi Heck

All across the country now, employees are making or are already striving to achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. Employers, too, have their resolutions: They’re setting goals to improve their wellness programs. And what’s the number one wellness goal on the minds of employers for 2016? Engagement. According to a recent survey from the Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH), 81 percent of employers surveyed said they were seeking better ways to increase employee engagement.

If that’s your goal, then here are five New Year’s Resolutions that can help drive greater engagement in 2016:

  1. Resolve to Create a Culture of Wellness

The single most important way you can engage your employees is through your corporate culture. Wellness experts have been talking about the value of instilling a “culture of health” for more than two decades. Over time, when organizations consistently practice wellness as a core value, participation becomes second nature to employees.

What’s the best approach for creating  a wellness culture? Check out the HERO Employee Health Management Best Practices Scorecard. It has defined specific criteria that are proven to enhance a culture of health. Key criteria include: leadership support; front line employee involvement; a supportive environment; a short- and long- term strategic plan; and incentives. Companies with greater organizational support have higher participation rates and greater success in managing health trends and costs.

  1. Resolve to Educate Your Employees

An effective culture of wellness reflects, inspires and rewards healthful living.  To inspire employees, plan sponsors must be willing to educate them, and also be educated themselves — by learning what is important to employees. An educated workforce will learn how healthy behavior change creates a win-win situation by improving their lives and their finances, as well as the financial well-being and growth of their company.

  1. Resolve to Lead by Example

Create a wellness champion network. These networks are comprised of executives, benefits managers, and other front line employees who lead the charge on wellness initiatives, whether corporately sponsored or location specific. They reflect the wellness culture. And they help keep workers invested by seeking out and using employee feedback to evolve the program.

  1. Resolve to Reward Your Employees

Let’s face it: it’s in our human nature to resist change. To help overcome that resistance, employees must be motivated. One proven way to motivate employees is to provide incentives, particularly financial ones, early on in your wellness program. A properly communicated program, with incentives that resonate with employees, can  drive desired engagement and can lead to long-term cost savings.

  1. Resolve to Reduce the Risk

Most of us cannot detect our health risks just by looking in the mirror. On the outside we may look fine. Health risk assessments and biometric screenings help employees  identify and understand how lifestyle behaviors and biometric values affect their health. But the key is engagement in activities that will reduce those risks. Personal health coaching or physical activity programs are proven programs to improve health risks, garnering a healthier workforce.

Resolve to follow these five steps in 2016, and you will better engage your employees as they strive to meet their own New Year’s Resolutions for improved  health.

About the Author

Debi Heck is Senior Vice President of Healthyroads Program Solutions and Client Strategy. She works with employer groups, health plans, brokers, consultants and other clients to support their wellness program implementation and long-term health management strategies.  She has more than 25 years of health management, wellness, and preventive health care experience, serving in leadership positions in some of the nation’s leading population health consulting and management organizations.  You can reach Debi at