Offering the right workplace wellness incentives can supercharge employee participation and engagement in your organization’s health and wellness program. It can also boost morale, help employees reach health goals, and can even help to pay for your wellness benefit.

There are many ways to structure incentives so that wellness programs can be nearly revenue neutral. In the Affordable Care Act, one key provision enables employers to offer wellness program participants deeper financial incentives associated with their employee contributions to the cost of health insurance. That means that participating employees can earn a savings, while non-participanting employees can be charged up to an additional 30% of the total health insurance cost; In the case of smoking, the allowable incentive grows to 50%.

There are many factors that may contribute to the type of incentive offering that is right for your organization, such as your program goals, your budget, your work population and your workplace culture.

Common workplace wellness incentives include:

  • Reduced health insurance premiums
  • Lower deductibles
  • Cash
  • Paid time off
  • Special privileges
  • Recognition or awards
  • Merchandise and gifts

One approach that can be successful is having a flexible program for earning workplace wellness incentives. It’s important to structure programs so that they do not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so a flexible program allows for accommodations.  For example, employees attain an incentives when they reach a designated point level. In such a plan, employees can choose from participating in a range of optional and required activities to attain points.
Here are examples of activities that employees earn a predesignated number of points for:

  • Enrolling in a health portal
  • Downloading a wellness app
  • Completing a Health Risk Assessment (HRA)
  • Participating in health educational sessions or web courses
  • Engaging a coach in one of five health areas (smoking cessation, nutrition, fitness, stress, alcohol & drugs)
  • Having an annual preventative screening
  • Participating in company-sponsored or sanctioned health promotions, such as bike to work month, pedometer challenges, charity walkathons
  • Reaching a goal, such as 3-months tobacco-free or reaching a pre-established weight goal

A good workplace wellness program should help you identify the right workplace wellness incentive model for your organization. Part of this process would entail working with you to:

  • Conduct an organizational risk assessment to establish goals
    Establish an incentive budget
  • Explore incentive options and make recommendations for incentive program design
  • Plan ways to create frequent communications to publicize the plan to your employees
  • Provide a tracking system to track points/activities that would trigger awards
  • Provide reports that measure progress and demonstrate return on investment

Explore more about workplace wellness incentives and ways to structure plans that will yield results in our TotalCare Wellness Knowledge Center.


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