How to create compelling incentives for wellness programs

The most effective wellness programs include carefully selected incentives that compel participants to take certain actions or perform certain activities throughout the program, reported Occupational Health & Safety.

Although the number of employers who are implementing wellness programs continues to rise--a recent survey found that 78 percent of companies across the globe are strongly committed to creating a workplace culture focused on health--participation and engagement rates have been lacking. Indeed, 85 percent of large U.S. employers currently offer a wellness program, but just 40 percent of employees who know about the program actually participate in it, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Lackluster incentives are the biggest factor causing poor engagement in wellness programs. For example, cash isn't effective because there simply isn't enough money available to be meaningful. Plus, it doesn't provide social support and has no long-lasting effect after it's used, Melissa Van Dyke, executive director of the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), told OH&S.

Instead, insurers should develop tangible incentives, including merchandise and gift cards that are related to health and wellness. Examples of effective incentives are:

  • MP3 players and ear buds
  • Sports attire
  • Kitchen appliances that promote healthful eating
  • Cameras that can be used during physical activities
  • Books on health and wellness topics

Wellness programs can offer these incentives at different points in the process, including when participants read program materials, enroll in the program, read training materials, take quizzes, complete a health risk assessment or lose weight.

To learn more:
- read the Occupational Health & Safety article

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