Incentivize Your Wellness Program

inspirationWorkplace wellness programs aim to promote healthy lifestyle changes for employees to change their behavior and become healthier both at work and at home. In turn, the risk associated with major illnesses or frequent doctor’s visits can be reduced. However, while corporate wellness programs are becoming more and more popular across companies in the United States, many of these programs are not reaching the goals they set out to achieve because of low employee engagement rates. The most successful wellness programs are those with high engagement rates across the organization and high retention throughout the years, so here’s what you need to know to provide incentives:

Remain Compliant

There are some legal considerations to keep in mind when coming up with your incentive strategy. While many of these are linked to group health plan benefit incentives, other compliance issues to note are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination ACT (GINA). Under the ADA, employers must provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees to participate in the wellness programs and earn rewards.

Cash Incentives

These incentives are some of the most common. These can include bonuses, gifts, and gift certificates. Providing cash incentives to the winner of a wellness challenge can prove to be a very effective way to get employees motivated. A good idea is to provide a cash incentive like a gift card to a place that will further promote healthy activity. For example, a gift card to Whole Foods or a healthy restaurant in the local area.


Much like with their work, showing recognition to employees can be a great way of motivating them to reach their wellness goals. Public or private recognition can be a good, cost-effective way of rewarding your employee’s efforts and boosting morale. Recognition can include mentioning accomplishments through email or your company newsletter or by presenting trophies and awards.

Health Benefits Incentives

This can be attractive to both employers and employees. If employees are working towards a healthier lifestyle and get discounts on health insurance premiums and reductions in health insurance copays, then the employer may ultimately see a reduction in claims dollars.

A variety of employee activities and behaviors can be rewarded upon completion. Things like health risk assessments, overall participation in wellness program activities, and biometric screenings can be rewarded to increase participation and create individual wellness goals for employees. Providing employees with educational materials regarding what activities can and should be completed is an effective first start towards motivation and incentivizing a change in employee behavior towards a healthier lifestyle.