Do Wellness Incentives Work?
With health care costs continuing to rise, more and more organizations are incorporating wellness programs to help keep their employees healthy. However, the success of a wellness program depends greatly on participation, and participation rates can be difficult to maintain. As cited by The Benefits Guide, the Anthem’s Trends in Health Benefits 2018 report found that nearly 75% of organizations are offering wellness incentives to encourage employees to participate and improve their health.
In an additional study cited by The Benefits Guide, a report in the American Journal of Managed Care, it was found that incentives do have a positive impact. Most notably, financial incentives significantly improved the number of people who participated in preventive care services, such as cholesterol tests, annual checkups and blood sugar tests. Physical activity programs and challenges also saw an increase in participation, followed by smoking cessation, weight loss, disease management and lifestyle management programs.
Types of Wellness Incentives
Not all organizations and employees are the same, which means the same incentive may not work for everyone. Luckily, there are a variety of wellness incentives to choose from, and most can be tailored and customized. CoreHealth Technologies explains that all incentives typically fall into three main categories:
- Participation-Based: These incentives are typically rewards given to those who participate in one or several aspects of the wellness program. This is the most inclusive type of incentive and overall helps encourage more participation.
- Progress-Based: These incentives are pretty inclusive and are meant to encourage participants to set goals and continue working towards them. Rewards or prizes are then handed out as milestones are reached.
- Out-Come-Based: When participants reach their end goal, such as a goal weight or BMI level, they receive recognition as well as a reward or a prize. These incentives are seen as less inclusive, however, it can help encourage participation by showing employees where they need to be and what they are working towards.
Tips For Implementing Wellness Incentives
- Start by deciding which behaviors you are looking to change so you know which type of programs will benefit your employees the most.
- Familiarize yourself with the relevant rules under the Affordable Care Act to get a better idea of which incentives can be be implemented.
- Communicate with your employees either one-on-one, in focus groups, or through a survey to figure out which of the 3 main types of incentives would be the most motivating and encouraging.
- Evaluate your company culture and organizational mission to ensure the proposed incentives are relevant and align with overall goals.
- Once you’ve decided on incentives, create a communication strategy to make sure all employees are informed and aware of how the incentive program will work.
- Remember that there is a trial and error phase! It may take awhile to find the right incentives that maximize participation rates.
Wellness incentives can be a great way to lower health costs, reduce sick days and improve the health of your workforce. It won’t happen over night, but following these tips will help you create the perfect incentive program for your organization and help improve participation rates!