What Wellness Program Incentive Awards Focus On

Participation, the number that creates the biggest smiles among workplace wellness managers, is the primary focus of their incentive programs, according to the majority of wellness managers who have responded to the “Workplace Wellness Management Survey on Incentives” over the years and conducted by Institute for Workplace Wellness and Health Promotion.

As incentive awards programs become more sophisticated, wellness managers are shifting the primary goals of their awards programs. For example, completion of a health risk appraisal (HRA) has jumped almost 14 percent compared to the 2006 results of our survey.

We have conducted the survey every three years 2003 – 2006 and 2009. Because we are based in New Jersey where Super Storm Sandy wreaked havoc. As a result much of our similar research work has been postponed. We will be conducting the survey again this year.

But in the meantime we believe that it is worthwhile to look at the numbers from the survey results.

Significantly, 54.5 percent of those responding to our most recent survey were offering incentives to employees/members for completing an HRA, compared to 40.7 percent of respondents in 2006. HRA completion was not included in the 2003 survey.

Almost 80 percent of wellness managers said their incentive program is aimed at participation, up almost 11 percent from 2006 survey findings.


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Proof of program participation is required for incentives reported by 36.6 percent of respondents and 31.2 percent said their program has a focus on behavioral change.


2009 Survey Results: What Does Your Incentive Program Focus On?

Participation – 77.7%

HRA participation – 54.5%

Proof of program attendance – 36.6%

Behavior change – 31.2%

Other – 6.2%

Source: Institute for Workplace Wellness and Health Promotion. Copyright 2013, Wellness Management Information Center.


Twenty-five percent of survey respondents’ incentives programs have a focus on outcomes, found the survey.

The “other” category in the incentive award focus, reported by 6.2 percent of respondents, included biometric screening, reward points for participating in behavior change activities, educational opportunities and preventive screenings, and IDs scans to show employees/members used free gyms.

Also, lifestyle coaching program enrollment and completion, annual physicals, program activities compliance, recommended preventive services, trend injury and illness data with health and fitness data, physician assessment of specified risk factors, participation in online lifestyle change programs, and outcomes from evidence-based programs.

The ‘other’ category dropped from more than 22 percent in 2003 as wellness managers program results goals became more sophisticated and specific.

The Changing Focus of Wellness Program Incentive Awards
2003 2006 2009
Behavior Change 32.3% 33.1% 31.2%
HRA Participation N/A 40.7% 54.5%
Other 22.6% 5.9% 6.2%
Outcome 19.4% 27.1% 25.0%
Participation N/A 66.9% 77.7%
Proof of Program Attendance 25.8% 33.9% 36.6%

Source: Institute for Workplace Wellness and Health Promotion. Copyright 2013, Wellness Management Information Center.


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