The Incentive to Be Well

Posted by Melissa Meunier on Mon, Mar 02, 2015 @ 01:00 PM

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In our 5 Recognition Trends for 2015 eBook, we share our employee recognition insights and what your organization can do to see results. This five-part blog series will cover each trend and its effect on employee engagement.


Trend No. 1 - Wellness Becomes Essential

Wellness programs used to be a "nice to have" or an optional program within many organizations. Today these programs are a catalyst for higher engagement and lower healthcare costs, and becoming an essential part of every organization's recognition and engagement strategy.

Participation in this type of program can hover around 10 percent* if the right type of recognition and rewards are not being used. A recent Gallup poll indicates that workgroups engaged and thriving in their well-being had 38% fewer unhealthy days, illustrating the added benefit of a well-being focus.

It’s a no-brainer that healthy people work harder, are happier and more efficient. According to Corporate Wellness Magazine, for every $1 invested in employee wellness programs, the yield is around $4 in savings through reduced sick days, higher productivity and decreased overall health costs. As health care costs continue to rise, and there is an increased demand on working longer, wellness programs have a place in the organization. 

A study conducted by bswift in conjunction with Employee Benefit News found that 24% of large employers with wellness programs offer outcomes-based incentives for employees who meet biometric thresholds - a 9% increase from last year. The number of smaller employers (50-500 employees) with wellness programs who offer incentives has also increased substantially - 78% now offer incentives, up from 52% two years ago. 

Incentives play a role in optimizing health. They are also key to getting employees to be engaged and motivated, and concurrently increasing productivity in the workplace. Rewarding employees for getting healthy and achieving results encourages the type of changes needed to get a program off the ground and encourage a real shift in employee culture.

The biggest challenge is how to create a program that works. Wellness programs are most successful when the organization and employees are fully engaged in the program; however, it takes strategic planning and goal setting to make that a reality. Where to start? Organizations can start by asking themselves these questions: 

What are the needs?

Wellness programs are different from company to company as each organization has a unique set of goals, employee needs and motivators. A survey is a great way to understand employee needs; it should include questions to help determine what types of programs, incentives, and rewards will motivate employee participation & increase engagement levels.

What is your plan?

Matching incentive programs to the company culture is the most important element in the planning process and will ensure better engagement and participation. Analyze the survey data and determine the elements that will work and even involve employee representatives to help with the planning. Employees need to see the real benefits otherwise they might not take advantage of classes and programs. 

How do you communicate?

Changing the wellness culture doesn't happen overnight or without reinforcement.  A communication plan should lay out the framework and different methods (and times) to communicate the information to the employees. Successful programs are communicated using multiple communications methods, including emails, newsletters, calendars, posters, brochures and social media.

Wellness programs should be designed to encourage employees to keep themselves healthy regardless of their work environment (offices, factories, etc.). We know employers cannot control what employees will eat or how much they will participate in an exercise program.  But they can take simple measures to encourage healthier habits, from better vending machine options and tobacco-free work environments to conducting wellness courses to promote healthy lifestyles. 

Topics: Recognition Trends, employee incentive programs, health and fitness, employee wellness program