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Effective incentives for employee wellness programs

There are specific strategies employers can use for health program incentives.

There are many reasons why companies should use health and wellness programs as employee incentives.

The healthier a team member is, the more productive they will be. Plus, it will result in improved levels of job satisfaction and engagement, while lowering business costs associated with healthcare.

But, as with most aspects of employee reward programs, managers are often faced with the obstacle of trying to figure out the best approach to initiating participation. And, unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of effective execution in this department.

According to research conducted by Towers Watson, 32 percent of employees said the wellness programs offered through their companies are inadequate and only half of workers participate in them, Human Resource Executive reported.

Not everyone cares about fitness and weight loss goals. And just because a corporate executive understands the value of a healthy workplace and provides the opportunity join one, doesn’t mean people actually will.

So how can employers successfully execute work wellness programs?

Use a variety of incentives
Business leaders don’t want to back themselves in a corner, so to speak, by aggressively pursuing one strategy, especially if the company has only recently adopted the program.

Instead, it is recommended that managers offer a range of rewards and incentives for participants and, as always, track and measure levels of engagement and effectiveness as time progresses.

The truth is that there really is no one-size-fits-all approach to employee wellness programs, which is why it is important for employers to acknowledge that different workers are motivated by different things.

“Financial incentives aren’t effective for weight loss programs.”

Science Daily recently reported that if companies want to help employees lose weight, financial incentives aren’t the way to go. The source revealed that a study, which was conducted by University of Pennsylvania researchers and published in Health Affairs, looked at nearly 200 obese workers to determine the influence monetary rewards had on weight loss motivation.

“There is often a presumption that the size of the reward is all that matters. In reality, incentive systems vary in effectiveness according to how well they are designed,” Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, told the source. “In this case, premium adjustments had little impact on weight and the lottery incentives we used were constrained by having to do weigh-ins in workplace settings. That made sustained engagement and behavior change more challenging.”

However, just because this particular approach wasn’t enough to incentivize employees, doesn’t mean managers are out of luck. Rather, they must be more creative in their strategy.

Leverage technology and social media
As businesses shift client-facing operations toward the Internet of Things, it only makes sense that employees implement the same advanced technologies for internal processes.

Thanks to social media networks, wearable fitness trackers and Web-based programs, employers can improve health and wellness incentives by making it an entertaining and easily-accessible process.

“Corporate wellness programs will start to incorporate more fun activities that motivate employees to participate and stick with the programs, including enhanced technology, gamification, competitions and other similar ideas,” Health Advocate Senior Vice President of Product Development Kelly Johnston recently pointed out to CIO.com.

In turn, the source indicated, team members will be more inclined to participate simply because they won’t feel like they are forced or obliged to.

Encouraging healthy lifestyles doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Click the video to learn more.

Promote healthy choices from the inside out
Often times, it’s not enough to simply offer wellness programs to members and assume the benefits will unfold on their own.

Companies who are serious about encouraging healthier lifestyles for employees need to make sure it is obviously clear that it is something the corporate culture values at its core. But how can this be done? As the old expression goes, by practicing what you preach.

In addition to offering biometric screenings, health assessments, and wellness-related seminars and workshops, managers can incentivize employees by providing discounted fitness classes and gym memberships. Furthermore, companies could stock the office with healthy snack and food choices.

To effectively inspire and motivate employees to make smarter lifestyle choices, corporate leaders must be flexible yet persistent in their approach.

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