Earlier when wellness programs were first introduced, it became a hype among the employees, which gained popularity for two decades. However, with the rapidly increasing sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food habits, we can witness a steep downfall of participation in the past few years. To pump up the spirit of your employees' wellness incentives can help re-engage and retain healthy behaviors.
Rising health issues has been a significant concern worldwide. Employee wellbeing has become an important issue to resolve across companies. Companies have started adopting corporate wellness programs to combat problems. Its purpose is to help employees maintain healthy behaviors for their entire lives. In most cases, unless the employees are internally driven, it's hard to retain patience and motivation to achieve a long-term goal.
Even though there is a lot of debate over the productiveness of wellness incentives, 75% of corporate programs include them for better employee engagement. A survey released by Hewitt Associates reveals that 48% of major U.S. employers planned to offer wellness incentives to their employees who are willing to participate in wellness or other health-related programs.
What is a Wellness Incentive?
A wellness incentive is a strong emotion or desire that impacts the overall wellbeing of an individual. It can be of external or internal motivation forms. Employers use wellness incentives for the promotion of wellness by offering rewards and recognitions to their employees.
Incentives are also used to enhance healthy behaviors among employees like quitting smoke or taking more steps. It is often collaborated with various wellness campaigns or a specific activity to get more extensive participation. As an example, it can be offered for completing a health risk assessment forming some long term healthy habits.
Types of Incentives for Wellness Programs
There can be various types of incentives for a wellness program. It is important to customize them as per the requirements of your employees. Choosing an incentive can always be cumbersome at times. Also, spending time and money, no one wants the effort to go wasted. Hence as a manager, you offer products or services which your employees genuinely value.
Before curating some ideas, you must know different types of incentives to categorize them easily.
Here are two types of incentives based on a budget of the wellness program:
Cost and No-Cost Incentives.
1. Cost Incentives: These incentives are generally tangible. The cost may vary depending upon the quality and quantity of the material. You may consider a budget based on per employee or only winners in a year. Cost incentives can be divided into further three levels i.e
- Low-cost incentives:(<$100) - Water bottles, yoga mats, bags, earphones, etc.
- Mid-cost incentives:( $100-$300)- Gym memberships, wearables devices, shoes, health equipment, etc.
- High-cost incentives:(>$300)- vacations, a day off with pay, laptops, mobile phones, etc.
2. No Cost Incentives: These incentives are non- tangible. It can be used free if appropriately planned. It does not require any additional cost and can be used free. Some of the no-cost incentives include: taking paid office breaks for exercising or meditating, offering flexible hours of work, choice of work from the home schedule in a week.
Here are three types of incentives based on the process of wellness programs:
Progress-based, participation-based, and result-based incentives.
3. Progress Based Incentives: These incentives demand the active participation of your employees as they are being rewarded, provided they strive throughout the process. It can apply for any weight loss challenge in an expansion of 6 weeks where every week if the participant is successful in meeting a specific target, will be rewarded.
4. Participation-based incentives: Employees who participate in any event get rewarded either with a point-based system or recognition through certificates. This incentive is more popular as it encourages employees to join as a team. There is hardly any competition so that it can be administered through random draws.
5. Result Based Incentives: The employees can avail of this incentive after completing a goal, like meeting the health requirements in a biometric screening test. It can be assumed as the least inclusive incentive as it reduces the competition by excluding the participants who fail to complete. The winners are awarded highly with extra brownie points, as completing the event takes patience and consistency.
Importance of effective wellness incentive programs for employees
Every other wellness program is using incentives to maximize the prospects of employee participation. There is numerous evidence of the benefits of having one. Well-planned incentive programs can help employees stay motivated for the success of a long-term behavior change. But creating such wellness incentive programs consume the wellness budget and a lot of personnel time. The purpose of the awarding incentives goes wasted if not targeted and appropriately tracked. Thus managing an effective wellness incentive program is as important as the outcome from the plan.
Here I have discussed a step-by-step method briefly to help you plan out an effective wellness incentive program.
- Study the type of behaviors you want to incentivize
- Must have a smart choice of the right incentives
- Know your employees' motivations for the incentives
- Selection of a hassle-free way of incentivizing
- There must be a free communication related to the process
- Opt for choosing healthy alternatives for incentives
Here I have mentioned seven viral wellness incentives ideas to help you elevate your wellness programs.
Seven budget-friendly wellness incentive ideas
1. Give paid leave
Nothing can match the thrill when one hears Vacation! But a report by the U.S. The Travel Association cites a different picture totaling 768 million vacation days going unused in a year. The life of a regular employee has become busier inside-out of their work. Working longer hours, meeting deadlines, looking after the family, pursuing interests have snapped out the "Me-Time" of every individual. This has severely affected your employees' work-life balance and thus invites unwanted health issues.
How to do it: One way to reward your employees is by Self-Time. If an employee hits their performance goals in a particular year, offering them a vacation or work days off can be the best incentive to retreat from their busy lives. This can be a most sought after benefit, which helps your employees rejuvenate back in work and work harder to achieve it next time.
2. Reward through corporate wellness platforms
Tech-savvy employees spend a maximum of their time socializing with their peers online. Employers can use this concept of having an engaging workforce by providing resources that promote wellness. Wellbeing technology helps organizations with various affordable services that help in tracking employees' health and nutrition factors. There are multiple websites and mobile applications based services that help in running a wellness campaign and track your employee's participation rate.
How to do it: Opt for Vantage Fit: which is an excellent and economic corporate health and wellness platform. It aims to rejuvenate the overall wellness of your employees through real-time activity tracking and heart rate monitoring. The app comes with a customizable wellness campaign in individual and team level, on completion of which helps in gaining Vantage fitness points. These fitness points can be used to purchase deals from any e-commerce website.
3. Gift merchandise
Purchasing merchandise has significantly gained traction in the past few years. The corporate office offers recognition rewards to its employees for brand promotional factors. It's tangible and often viewed as a success symbol for participants. It is used as an employee motivational factor to boost participation ratio in various tasks for their organization.
How to fo it: Employers can allocate some specialized company's merchandise as a prize for participating or winning a competition. You can also buy some t-shirts, mugs, water bottles, shoes to replicate the same effect. This will boost morale and create a buzz among your employees to win the event.
4. Offer health insurance rebates
Out of all incentives, employees are more thrilled about the news of the company's offering health insurance. According to Small Biz Trends, 63% of the young cohort of employees that include Gen-Z desired health insurance at the beginning of their career. This is one of the top incentives which create an impact on employee engagement ratios. Even though it costs a minimum amount, companies worldwide offer employee health insurance rebates provided employees to meet the desired criteria or performances.
How to do it: You may select winners of a particular event and offer a minimum dollar, such as a $40/month rebate, which can add up to $480 a year.
5. Issue free memberships
Due to time constraints and lack of customized care, employees lose interest from their job. Various companies are opting for methods to add meaning to their employees' lives. Improvising their health is one way to create an impact on their lifestyle. If there is a lack of office space for an inhouse meditation room, offering memberships that provide similar services proves to be a great substitute. There are various means both online and offline, which create effective results in your employees' health.
How to do it: You can offer gym memberships to your employees to create an active lifestyle. There is also a provision for providing an online gym through mobile apps, where your employees can work out at the comfort of their homes. You can also offer memberships of various healthy food joints, online health coaching, and meditation apps, which boost the purpose of wellness programs.
6. Issue gift cards as a perk
To gain maximum productivity from your employees, it is necessary to attract their attention with goodies and office perks. While this incentive requires spending a little money, it is useful as a long term benefit. You can witness a surge of event participation and employee engagements as everyone doesn't want to miss the opportunity to get office perks like bonuses or gift cards. Employers can take the help of a corporate platform that offers office incentives.
How to do it: Enrolling into Vantage Perks service by Vantage Circle. This is a cloud-based employee discount platform that offers a wide range of deals and discounts from leading brands. Your employees can buy their favorite wellness products at a minimal amount through the platform.
7. Plan worksite exercise
Most of your employees lack personal time, which also includes taking care of their health. Post work hours, they become tired and inactive, thus leading a sedentary lifestyle. This elevates high-risk diseases, which can be fatal at times. Investing in a workplace wellness room can prove to be beneficial at times. This incentive helps boost your wellness programs and improves your time constraint employees to take care of themselves.
How to do it: If there is an extra room within your office, you can renovate it to a retiring room. Here your employees can exercise, relax, and meditate within the office hours. You may also plan to provide juice corners and necessary equipment required during an activity.
An incentive program forms a comprehensive part of health promotion and HR strategy. It helps in boosting your employees' morale and motivation to lead a healthy and purposeful life. Choosing the right kind of incentive gives you a return on investment. Even though most of the incentives can be available, they are non-taxable, but there are specific taxable incentives. Thus having a regular check with the payroll team is a must for an employer to avoid extra costs.
Now I would like to know from you
What else do you offer to incentivize your employee wellness programs?
Let me know in the comments section below!