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Employee reward programs rise as more companies enact wellness programs

Companies are increasing their use of wellness programs to control healthcare costs and are turning to employee reward programs to boost participation in the initiatives.

Companies are increasing their use of wellness programs to control healthcare costs and are turning to employee reward programs to boost participation in the initiatives.

A new employer survey by the National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investment found that 86 percent of employers currently use wellness-programs in an attempt to reduce expenses and increase productivity. Wellness Magazine has reported that businesses can generate $4 in savings for every $1 spent on incentive programs designed to help workers lose weight, stop smoking or exercise more. This return on investment has contributed to a rise in spending on wellness programs according to the study. Companies plan to spend an average of $521 per staff member during 2013, which is double the amount spent in 2009.

Employee reward programs for wellness programs are typically designed to encourage healthy behavior. Workers who join a gym, manage medical treatments or other complete health risk assessments can be rewarded with lower premiums or other small reward. However, the study shows that these programs are becoming more complex. As they spend more money on the initiatives, businesses are pushing to get higher returns on their investment. The study showed that 41 percent of employers will incorporate outcome-based metrics within their incentive program over the next year. By creating measurable goals on an individual or company-wide basis, firms are able to integrate metrics as part of the reward process. Meeting specific goals, like lowering cholesterol or blood pressure, qualifies employees for more benefits.

Wellness programs help create a fitness-focused work environment that can increase engagement and improve performance. Employees who participate in weight-loss activities together are more likely to see better communication and coordination. A recent national study of students found that a healthy environment can boost the performance of high school students. The same principles have been shown to apply to corporate offices as well, which is contributing to the rise in spending for wellness programs.

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