Participation Rates in Wellbeing Programs: Understanding the Numbers

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Employee wellbeing programs are a popular way for companies to promote the health and wellbeing of their workforce. These programs typically include a range of services and resources designed to help employees manage stress, improve mental and physical health, and achieve a better work-life balance. How do you get employees on board with these programs and what participation rates can you expect?


How do you measure the success of a wellbeing program?

One important aspect of evaluating the effectiveness of employee wellbeing programs is measuring participation rates. Participation rates refer to the percentage of employees who take advantage of the resources and services offered through the program.

On a general level, studies have found that on average, participation rates for employee wellbeing programs are relatively low. A article published in Harward Business Review in 2021 (1) found that the average participation rate for programs where ranging between 23-32%. 

It is worth noting that participation rates can vary widely depending on the specific program and population being studied. Factors such as program design, employee demographics, and organisational culture can all have a significant impact on participation rates. For example, programs that are well-promoted and easily accessible are likely to have higher participation rates than those that are poorly advertised or difficult to access. 

Additionally, the effectiveness of a wellbeing program is determined not only by the percentage of employees who participate, but also by other objectives such as the quality of the program and the increase in participants' wellbeing or activity levels.


How to increase the participating rates?


There are several ways to increase participation rates in employee wellbeing programs. One effective strategy is to provide employees with multiple ways to access the program, such as through phone or computer. Employees may have multiple preferences and one solution may not work for others, so allowing them to choose how they want to participate can significantly increase participation rates.

Another strategy is to involve employees in the implementation and design of the program. This can help ensure that the program meets the needs and interests of employees and is tailored to the specific culture and values of the organisation. If employees feel that the wellbeing program is not just something that the company offers as a default, but that their specific needs have been heard and taken into account, the wellbeing program itself will feel more valuable and worthwhile to participate in.

Rewards are often a good way to activate people. Rewarding people based on their level of activity during the program, the number of different sports they try, the number of hours or steps they take, or whatever suits their lifestyle, will encourage participation. Rewards can be individual, team or even departmental.



  • Provide employees with multiple ways to access the program, such as through phone or computer
  • Involve employees in the implementation and design of the program
  • Plan a reward system based on the participation activity of individuals, teams or departments


Good results with HeiaHeia wellbeing programs

HeiaHeia's digital wellbeing programs incorporate many of these aspects by design. Participation is effortless using digital devices and each individual can choose activities that suit their specific life situation and needs. In the implementation and marketing phase, we involve employees in a fun way. In practice, employees can form teams with colleagues and motivate each other in a game-like challenge experience. It is not uncommon for our proven models to achieve significantly higher participation rates than the industry average. Here are two excellent case examples of well-implemented wellbeing programs that have achieved excellent participation rates: Arla and Also.

In conclusion, participation rates in employee wellbeing programs tend to be on a general level relatively low on average. However, by selecting the right partner and taking steps to make programs more accessible and engaging for employees, companies can increase participation and ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of their workforce.



(1) Valencia, Carolina (2021). How to Get Employees to (Actually) Participate in Well-Being Programs. Harvard Business Review., accessed December 2022.

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