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The Best Incentives for Wellness Programs

by
author image Angela Stokes
Angela Stokes received her Master of Science in health promotion management from the American University in Washington, D.C., focusing her studies on health policy and corporate health, including prevention and wellness. Stokes also holds a Bachelor of Science in human resources management with a minor in economics.
The Best Incentives for Wellness Programs
A business woman meditating in her office. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

Overview

According to WellnessIncentivePrograms.com, worksite wellness programs contribute to lower insurance and medical care costs, less absenteeism and boosted employee morale and productivity. Incentives are an effective way to increase participation in worksite wellness programs, leading to further cost savings. There is a correlation between the amount of the incentive and levels of program participation, reports Sherri Potter, senior group and health care consultant at Watson Wyatt. Incorporating incentives into your wellness program will help create a healthier and more productive workforce.

Financial Incentives

Companies that offer financial incentives report significantly higher participation in wellness programs, according to a survey by Watson Wyatt and the National Business Group on Health. Some examples of financial incentives include health insurance premium reductions, smaller deductibles or contributions to health savings or flexible spending accounts. The amount of the incentives can differ based on the wellness activity. For example, employers can provide an up-front cash incentive for signing up for a smoking cessation class; a larger incentive can be paid upon successful completion of the program. Employers who use StayWell Health Management, a Minnesota-based wellness program developer, report incentive payments of $10 to $1,000 per employee annually, with the average being between $100 and $200.

Inspiring Gifts

Gifts that promote healthy behaviors are inexpensive incentives that can be ordered in bulk for wellness program participants. According to Worksite Wellness for Tompkins County, NY, using imprinted personal items as incentives can help build team spirit and boost organizational culture. Some examples include sports bottles, travel mugs, pedometers, exercise bands or stress balls. Gift certificates to a healthy grocery store or sporting goods store are also useful incentives that promote healthy choices.

Workplace Policies

Simple changes to workplace policies can also be used as incentives and are essentially free to implement. For example, you can provide employees with a flexible schedule so they can fit in physical activity at their convenience. The New York State Physical Activity Coalition recommends encouraging employees to take time out for themselves; managers should encourage employees to attend company-sponsored fitness classes or nutrition seminars and adjust their schedules accordingly. Companies can also make a point to recognize employees engaged in wellness activities through bulletin board postings or the company newsletter. The most important thing managers can do is to participate in the wellness activities to set an example to employees that their participation is supported.

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