Incentives For Participation Seen As A Core Program Element Necessary To Drive Participation

Although the use of incentives to motivate employees or members to participate in wellness programs continues to be debated, wellness professionals see the use of incentives as an important part of the over all programs goals for success found the “Workplace Wellness Program Management Survey.”

“Incentives are important to get those employees motivated and participating in programs that they may have not taken part in otherwise,” said a coordinator of a hospital employee wellness program.

“They show that the administration is dedicated to helping them improve their health. In our case it also shows the administration’s dedication to making sure their employees are recognized and cared for,” the coordinator said. “Those employees that are already living healthy lifestyles are also being rewarded, which helps keep them on track.”

Incentives A ‘Must

“It’s a must to get employees to participate,” agreed the wellness director of a wellness services consulting firm. “The ones we NEED to participate never would, and we would always have the 10-30 percent already healthy jumping in.”

A university manager of employee wellness told us “I believe that it needs to be linked to the benefit plan design – a menu of items of wellness efforts that employees can easily participate in to be eligible for the incentive.”

Incentives have become a core program element necessary to drive participation, said a personal wellness coordinator, employed with a consulting firm. “We use a point system towards a cash reward incentive. Participants can earn points in order to reach certain cash reward levels.”                      —————————————————————————————-

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Making the Case for Incentives to Boost the Success
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Jennifer Price, a corporate wellness consultant, told us that she thinks incentives are a “necessary component for an effective program. [We are] working towards using our health plan as the incentive – that is our goal.”

A hospital wellness program specialist said: “For some individuals incentives are the only way we can get them involved.”

Another hospital wellness coordinator said “incentives are important in getting individuals engaged in the program and started. We hope that in the long run their reward will be added healthy years to their life.”

“Money incentives always work well,” observed a survey respondent. “Economic times will prevent us from monetary incentives this year but we remind staff of the importance of a healthy lifestyle even though we cannot reward them but rather the reward is their better health.”

A manager with a managed care organization said the incentives are “a MUST to get higher levels of participation … [They] must be tailored to population priority and interest … be a blend of both positive and negative reinforcement … [and] MUST be focused on participation … rather than change …”

Make It Fun With Incentives

A corporate HR benefits generalist said “the right incentive works well. We offer partial reimbursement of membership fees for fitness centers and Weight Watchers. We also started a rewards points program, with prizes from $25 gift cards to iPods and digital cameras.”

The manager believes that “incentives should stay on the ‘fun side.’ It is a little extra that people will get, and it also gives some extra motivation. That’s how far I would like to go. It should not be the only reason for participation or be turned into a competition.”

The “Workplace Wellness Management Survey” 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, and was compiled and analyzed by the Institute for Workplace Wellness and Health Promotion, the research and survey arm of the Wellness Management Information Center, publisher of Wellness Program Management Advisor.


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