The key to designing a strong wellness incentive program is about “knowing your audience,” wellness management professionals said, according to the results of a workplace wellness management survey conducted by Wellness Program Management Advisor and WellnessJunction.com.
“I believe incentives can work, but you need to ‘know your audience,’” said an operations manager of a corporation responsible for the health promotion program, which offered incentives ranging from T-shirts, to drawings for iPods or airline tickets. “Providing them with a generic incentive doesn’t always motivate them. If you offer them ‘things’ that they don’t need or want, you won’t see any effect.”
And despite the trend in offering cash-based incentives (67.8 percent), the manager said that incentives do not have to be extravagant. “I’ve seen people be motivated by just receiving stickers on a hanging cut-out just because the reward is visible to others they work with.”
Another respondent also said she believes that incentives cannot be implemented blindly to employees.
“Incentives should be strategically given. If an incentive is always expected with little effort, it does not have the same impact overall,” said Paola Ball, fitness and wellness manager at an education institution focused on employee wellness. “Moreover, it is important for people to be driven by their own commitment as a result of the successful marketing of a wellness program and through encouragement by other staff members.”
“This promotes community and support for long- term behavior change,” Ball continued. “I havefound that some of the most successful programs have been those that do not put the emphasis on the prize, rather the emphasis is placed on congratulating participants for their commitment to wellness and their own health. Fun is also an essential component to a wellness program. If activities are looked at as a ‘fun thing to do’ instead of an imposed behavior change, people are more willing to sign up and try new things.”
Another survey respondent suggested that programs should urge the employees to see their self-improvements as the ongoing incentive.
“In my experience, people are initially motivated by the incentives and later excited and encouraged by the changes they see in themselves,” said Shelly Beall, a self-employed wellness professional.
The Wellness Management Leadership survey on incentives for participation in wellness programs was conducted online among wellness professionals and subscribers to Wellness Program Management Adviser, The Wellness Junction Professional Update and members of the Wellness Managers Professional Discussion Group.
Source: Wellness Program Management Advisor www.wellnessjunction.com