Achieving high employee enrollment and participation in corporate wellness programs is critical to the success of workplace health initiatives. To encourage employees to participate, companies can either reward workers for their efforts or penalize them for not meeting certain goals.
Research shows the carrot may be more effective than the stick, with wellness program incentives being more effective than penalties in gaining long-term commitment. Though workplace wellness incentives are critical to high program uptake, the type of incentive you provide matters.
This guide to wellness program incentives provides a breakdown of the different wellness incentive rewards you can offer. We also cover some popular wellness incentive ideas to try with your team.
Benefits of Incentives for Employee Wellness Programs
Employee wellness programs support the core philosophy that healthy employees are happy and productive. Companies adopt wellness programs to help employees change their work and lifestyle habits to achieve optimal performance through better well-being.
Yet the success of a workplace wellness program hinges on the type of incentives employees can expect. The right incentives provide a compelling reason for employees to enroll in their company’s wellness program.
Some of the benefits of effective wellness program incentives include:
- Reward employees fairly for their commitment to health and well-being
- Boost participation rates in corporate wellness programs
- Improve talent recruitment and acquisition
- Promote lifelong healthy habits among employees
Since employers incur significant health-related expenses on behalf of employees, giving workers the tools to take charge of their health can help control these expenses. In addition to cost-reduction, employee wellness incentives also produce more focused, engaged, and productive employees, translating into higher profitability and greater success for the organization.
4 Types of Wellness Program Incentives
When designing your workplace wellness program, it’s essential to consider the different types of incentives you’ll offer. From fitness and health incentives to personal rewards tailored to the employee’s lifestyle, there are plenty of creative perks you can offer employees who commit to their wellness journey.
Below are four types of incentives for wellness program participation.
1. Fitness Incentives
Fitness incentives encourage employees to take their physical fitness to the next level. For office workers who lead predominantly sedentary lifestyles, fitness incentives are particularly beneficial because they encourage more physical activity.
An estimated 47% of American adults don’t meet the CDC guidelines for weekly aerobic activity. Fitness incentives can help foster a culture of increased commitment to aerobic health, curbing inactive behavior.
2. Health Incentives
Traditional health insurance incentive programs provide healthcare expense reimbursement. Today, many wellness programs go beyond basic medical benefits, offering health incentives that promote better daily living, such as rewards for weight loss or going tobacco-free.
Health incentives reward employees who achieve particular health goals, such as adopting a healthy diet for a set period. Some programs also offer perks to workers and their family members for undergoing screenings or health evaluations.
3. Personal Incentives
Wellness isn’t just about a better diet and exercise. It’s also about personal well-being and satisfaction with life. Personal well-being incentives encourage employees to do what’s right for their emotional and mental health too. They’re highly tailored to the unique employee and their needs.
Whether it’s increased vacation time, subsidies for childcare, or support with relocation or upgrading a home office, personal incentives help improve employees’ quality of life.
4. Professional Incentives
Just because employees participate in a wellness program doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll always be incentivized by health-related rewards. For highly engaged employees who are committed to the organization’s goals, one of the best rewards they can receive is something that helps them in their professional development.
Increase wellness program participation among your high-performing employees by offering them rewards that further their careers, such as coaching, education, and other work-related perks.
12 Ideas for Wellness Incentive Rewards
A wellness program is only as successful as the quality of its rewards. Valuable wellness prizes and incentives motivate employees to participate because they genuinely desire the particular reward and want to work toward it.
The following are some popular wellness incentive ideas to offer your employees:
1. Catered lunches or meal delivery — Healthy meal kits and work luncheons
2. Event tickets — Conferences, concerts, festivals, and sporting events
3. Gift cards — Sports stores, vitamin shops, and other health-related retailers
4. Experiences — Ski trips, golf tournaments, and adventure tours
5. Fitness memberships or health coaching — Gym, yoga, or community center passes or personalized health coaching
6. Holistic health services — Massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture sessions
7. Health and wellness gear and equipment — Gym gear, yoga mats, or exercise machines
8. App subscriptions — Meditation, fitness, sleep, or healthy eating premium app subscriptions
9. Cookware and kitchen supplies — Pots and pans, air fryers, or grills to encourage healthy home cooking
10. Home office equipment — Ergonomic chairs, standing desks, or LED desk lighting
11. Healthy home products — Premium mattresses, air quality monitors, or smart home systems
12. Time with leadership and professional retreats — One-on-one time with leadership outside of the workplace to foster motivation, performance, and engagement
Tips for Choosing the Right Wellness Incentives
When choosing a suite of incentives to offer employees for participating in wellness programs, there are some critical factors to keep in mind. The following tips will help you select the right workplace wellness incentives for your team:
- Personalize incentives: It’s important to know your employees and what motivates them personally. The more tailored you can make your incentives to your employees’ actual desires, the more effective the program will be at achieving high enrollment.
- Be specific: The more specific the reward or prize, the more likely it will do its job at incentivizing participation. When employees know exactly what they’re working toward, it maximizes their drive to achieve it.
- Provide variety: Incorporate variety into your wellness program with a combination of smaller wellness activity prizes and higher ticket items for achieving major goals. Having a variety of low, medium, and high-cost incentives, as well as results-based vs. participation-based incentives, allows your program to cater to employees across the board.
- Stay flexible: If you’re implementing a new wellness program, you’ll want to stay open-minded about the types of incentives you offer. Don’t feel you need to commit to a fixed incentive structure. Gauge engagement based on different prizes, and remain flexible so you can iterate your program over time.
Maximizing Employee Wellness Programs
Choosing the right wellness challenge prizes and incentives is key to maximizing your employee wellness program. From health and well-being rewards to prizes that improve your employees’ work-life balance, there are plenty of ways to incentivize employee enrollment in your corporate wellness program.
By understanding your employees’ motivations, goals, and lifestyle needs, you can select the optimal incentives that will produce the desired results.