Publication Date



[Excerpt] Eighty-five percent of large firms and 58 percent of small ones currently offer at least one program to promote health and wellness (H&W) among employees. Usually these have the twin goals of reducing companies’ healthcare costs while improving the quality of employees’ lives. Research shows that well-designed programs often attain both goals. But even the best of them frequently experience low participation rates, particularly among employees who are most likely to benefit from taking part. Why is this? More specifically, what factors do employees see as the major barriers impeding their participation in these types of programs?

This study provides some answers to these questions. It is the first step in a larger research effort to identify interventions that are – and just as important are not – successful in overcoming barriers to participation in H&W programs. The study is taking place in a Fortune 500 company. The present analysis focuses on data provided by 3,000 of the firm’s employees who responded to a survey asking them to assess the significance of 14 potential barriers to their participation in two quintessential H&W programs – one focusing on healthy eating and the other on exercise and movement.


Recommended Citation
Bell, B., & Collins, C. (2019, April). Health and wellness programs: Why employees don't participate (CAHRS ResearchBrief). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, ILR School, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.