Employee Incentive Programs

Best employee incentive programs for health & fitness

Many companies consider wellness programs to be a nice extra — an optional perk to keep employees engaged. The evidence, however, demonstrates that workplace wellness programs have far-reaching economic benefits for the companies that put them in place. Harvard Business Review notes that Johnson & Johnson saved $250 million on employee health care costs as a result of their long-running emphasis on worker wellness. This works out to a return of $2.71 for every dollar they invested. Here’s a quick look at how you can help your employees improve their level of wellness.

Incentives are essential

The Wall Street Journal reports “Nearly 90 percent of employers offer wellness incentives or financial rewards or prizes to employees who work toward getting healthier.” This percentage represents a substantial increase from earlier years, as organizations have come to recognize two things: first, they will benefit financially from a healthier workforce, and second, employees aren’t good at following through with new health habits in the absence of incentives. The fact that people have trouble sticking with health resolutions is well-known, so organizations and workers alike can benefit from well-organized programs.

Diverse approaches to employee incentive programs

Employee incentive programs can be structured around several models, and you may want to draw from each one in order to suit the diversity of personal styles among your staff:

  • Personalized interventions: These reward individual employees for taking specified personal health steps, such as completing a health risk assessment, reaching a target weight, or getting a cancer screening. Individual incentives don’t invite team effort or competition, but people who prefer to make such efforts privately will appreciate receiving an individual bonus.
  • Employee competitions: Some people are motivated by the recognition they will achieve by coming out on top of a friendly competition. The contest model can be applied to such actions as quitting smoking, attending a certain number of exercise classes, or walking the greatest number of steps in a given period. Incentives for winning such competitions can be gift cards, vacation days, and/or public presentation of prizes.
  • Collaboration: The third model for creating employee incentive programs is a collaborative one. Lunchtime walking groups or gym clubs use a supportive camaraderie to encourage employees to remain disciplined. Incentives here can also be cash, gift cards, or peer-to-peer recognition.

Letting your employees know you care about their health and wellbeing will build a sense of loyalty in your organization and contribute to a stable, productive economic future as well.

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