An employee wellness program is an excellent way for any company to encourage their employees to develop healthier lifestyles. These programs help employees make their health and wellness their top priority and can help them live better lives. These programs can also do wonders for a company that is trying to improve its culture and save money.
If you’re starting one of these programs it’s important to develop a way to track the progress your employees make. Points-based wellness programs are among the easiest ways to achieve this. To help you build your best wellness program, we’ve put together this quick guide to help you learn everything you need to know about points-based wellness programs.
What are Points-Based Wellness Programs?
Points-based wellness programs are wellness programs that use points to track progress and apply incentives and rewards. For example, your company has recently started a wellness challenge. Everyone participating in the challenge must attend 10 fitness classes for one month. At the end of each class, they can receive a point to prove they were keeping up with the challenge. At the end of the month, each employee will tally up the number of points they earned and receive rewards. For example, one employee went to the class 7 times. They receive 7 points and can redeem them for a non-monetary incentive like a voucher or gift card. These points can be used to fit any type of program or challenge your company may be doing. Points can be received for eating vegetables, cooking at home, doing stretches, or meditating for a certain number of minutes each day. A points-based system like this can help improve employee health in a fun and unique way that turns the challenges into a game-like system.
Benefits of Using Points to Track Wellness Progress
Wellness programs may seem difficult to implement. There’s no guaranteed way to ensure employees are participating, or believe the program is worth their time. Creating a points-based system helps remedy many of these problems.
First, and arguably most important, is that points-based wellness programs are easier to track. Assigning points to specific activities means you and your employees can easily track their progress throughout the program. Additionally, the points give an easy representation of the progress each person has made. It’s a fun way to see how far they’ve come since the beginning of the program.
Introducing a points-based wellness program also makes incentives and rewards more manageable. There are a few different ways this can be done. For a more rigid incentive structure, you can lock rewards behind different prize totals. For example, at the end of a one month challenge to attend a class, everyone who attended the class all 10 times and received full points can receive a special incentive that’s only available to them. Like a massage voucher. Those who receive less points can get varying degrees of prizes like gift cards to restaurants or other vouchers. Another way you can use a points-based system is by allowing employees to accrue their points. After they accrue a certain amount they can cash in for any prize they want. Instead of locking every employee out of the massage voucher at 10 points, you can let them save points until they have enough for the incentives they want. This is a softer approach, but allows employees to work towards the incentives they are interested in.
Points-based wellness programs are great tools to motivate participation as well. The gamification of the program keeps employees coming back for more. A points system is a motivating tool to keep employees engaged. A clear objective, with easy to track progress will make the experience of a wellness program more fun for everyone involved.
How to Build a Points-Based Wellness Program
With a better idea of what points-based wellness programs are and what their benefits are we can dive deeper into how you can plan your own program to help your employees build healthier lifestyles.
The starting point of any wellness program should be the employees. We are doing this for them after all. Before any program can be put in place, you need to learn more about your employees and their pain points. Creating a program that only focuses on one form of wellness can make other employees feel left out if they don’t want to participate in physical challenges. To better understand your employees you can perform a wellness survey to determine what programs will have the greatest impact on the health of your employees. This allows your company to take a more bespoke approach and avoid forcing all of your employees into a single wellness silo.
The second thing to consider is the goals of the wellness program. You have hopefully done a survey and have a better understanding of what your employees feel they’re lacking in wellness. If most of your employees have shown a lack of mental wellness, creating a program with the goal of improving stress management, and encouraging self care is your best option. Creating specific wellness goals helps your program become more focused and help more employees. You can have several goals, but make sure each one is focused and achievable.
The next step is to determine how employees will gain points during the program. The exact way your employees will earn points may vary based on the type of program or challenge you’re conducting, and the goals of the program. No matter what though, the base reasoning behind your decisions will remain largely the same. Workplace wellness challenges are meant to be rewarding. Providing points for each milestone hit during the course of the challenge is a fun option to push people to achieve more. You can also offer points for meeting incremental challenges. For example, if you are doing a mental health based program, you can reward a point for every day an employee meditates for 10 minutes, or each time they use a new stress management strategy. From there, each employee can start racking up the points.
After you’ve determined how points will be earned, you need to know how to track them. There are a couple of ways this can be done. When determining how to track these points, remember that wellness programs are optional and meant to build healthy habits. This means we want mechanisms that don’t feel like employees are being compelled to participate in a certain way. Keeping that in mind, one way you can keep track of progress is through employee journaling. This allows employees to keep track of progress themselves and write about their experiences. This is largely based on the honor system, but these are adults who want to participate in these programs. This gives them some agency and avoids making them feel like the company is always observing them. If you’re looking for something more concrete, you can include things like sign in sheets or punch cards. These are effective for exercise classes or group activities, though exclude employees that are incapable of attending them. Whichever option you choose, be sure to spend time promoting the wellness program so your employees know how to participate!
Incentive Ideas for Points-Based Wellness Programs
The final thing every successful wellness program should have is a list of great incentives. Here is a short list of some ideas that are sure to get your employees excited about the programs.
- Extra PTO
Who doesn’t like to have a little extra time off? Extra PTO as an incentive can be a great way to push employees to do their absolute best in each wellness program. Extra PTO also feeds directly into the point of the wellness program. Employees build healthy habits, and get rewarded with extra time to prioritize their own health while on an extended vacation.
- Fitness class vouchers
Fitness class vouchers as an incentive can help encourage more habits and extend programs. Many fitness classes can be expensive in both money and time. These vouchers can help drive the person who earned them to continue their hard work. Wellness programs are meant to form long lasting habits. What better way to facilitate that growth than with the vouchers to help them do that.
- Employee lunches
Employee lunches are a fun incentive that can help employees feel rewarded, appreciated, and build connections. These can be group lunches for everyone who earned the points, or can be one on one lunches between team members and managers. Each one offers a chance for employees and managers to bond, and show their appreciation for the work they do. Bonus points if it’s a healthy lunch.
- Gift baskets
These unique gifts can include several items to incentivize someone to continue their wellness journey. These baskets can include vouchers, gift cards, merch, gear and other items to encourage employees to continue working hard towards their goals and earning more points.
Merchandise is a great way to create loyalty for employees. Wellness programs give employees the opportunity to build better habits in a healthy workplace environment sponsored by their organization. When an organization takes steps to actively show they care about workers outside of their work, employees are more likely to feel more loyal to that company and its goals. Providing merch allows employees to proudly show off the company they work for while also giving a chance to pat oneself on the back about the progress they made to earn it.
- Fitness equipment
Much like fitness class vouchers, providing fitness equipment as an incentive can help encourage employees to explore physical fitness deeper outside of the program. Many people are afraid of going to the gym, but can’t afford brand new equipment of any kind. Providing beginners equipment allows them to dip their toe in before jumping into the deep end. If a program is focused on mental health, or nutrition, this type of incentive can be a stepping stone to the next program or allow them to consider their physical health.
Cookware is always a fun incentive. A new set of cookware can encourage people to cook at home more often. This builds healthier eating and cooking habits. Eating out every night can be expensive and rarely provides us with all the nutrients we need for a balanced diet. These changes outside of work can lead to better meal decisions inside of work as well. Eating healthy increases energy, brain power, and mood.
- Spa/massage vouchers
These are a great incentive for any wellness program. A spa and massage are often seen as luxuries that few people rarely take the time to consider. This voucher allows them to explore how great spas and massages are for their physical and mental health. Stress can be washed away in a matter of minutes, and they can return to life prepared to take on any upcoming challenges. It may also help them think of using these services again in the future to avoid extreme stress.
- Subscription health services
Subscription health services are hard to keep track of. There are thousands littering the app stores, and each one promises great results. Unfortunately, most of these apps are locked behind subscription models. Providing a company sponsored service for an amount of time can help employees build new habits, and track everything from their phone. Making it easily accessible can help keep them accountable for the goals they are trying to achieve and help them earn more points.
- Charitable donations
As far as incentives go, charitable donations are different, but are just as effective. These can be a once a year type event where each employee works to earn points for their charity. Charitable donations are a great way to encourage wellness as they help us feel good and reflect on our own situation. This can also be an “everyone wins” type incentive where everyone will get a donation to the charity of their choice, but the amount of that donation is determined by the amount of points they earn over the course of the program.
These are just some of the great incentives you can give your employees for participating in the program. If you need more inspiration though, check out these other incentives!
Points-based wellness programs are an easy way to introduce your employees to some life changing techniques. They are easy to track, and add fun elements to a program designed to make being healthy fun. If you’re interested in starting a program for your organization, speak to one of our wellness experts today!
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.