Implementing a wellness program is a great step towards protecting the overall wellness of your employees, but maybe you’ve noticed that many don’t participate. So what’s the value of a wellness program and how can you help more employees take part to build those all-important healthy habits? Two words. Wellness incentives. Building wellness incentives encourages employees to participate in the programs your team sets up. What will do the trick to help your employees get engaged? If you’re not sure where to start with your wellness incentives, read on to learn everything you need to know to get your employees excited and get involved.
What is a Wellness Incentive?
Before we jump too far in, it’s important to understand what wellness incentives are. Incentives are essentially a reward or other form of motivation that encourages someone to achieve certain goals. So, a wellness incentive is roughly the same thing but with a focus on encouraging activities based around wellness. This includes physical wellness, mental wellbeing, or any activity that can help improve employee health. A wellness incentive is a key part of any wellness program. Without them, you may see less participation than originally predicted. Even if participation starts strong initially, a lack of wellness incentives may lead to employees losing motivation and dropping out of the program altogether.
Why Use Wellness Incentives?
One of the key reasons to use wellness incentives is to provide a little extra push to the employees that need it. This is to be expected. However, it’s important to ensure these are truly incentives and not penalties. Punishing workers for choosing not to participate in a wellness program betrays the true purpose of these programs. Wellness incentives not only encourage your employees to participate in wellness programs and build healthy habits, but they also have a direct impact on your business. A recent study found the highest-performing companies offer their employees incentives to encourage high performance and increase their retention.
At the end of the day, wellness incentives are going to end up doing more good for your business and your employees. As more people opt into the wellness program they will continue to build healthy habits. These habits improve the overall health of the employees. And as employees becomehealthier they even become more productive.
Types of Wellness Incentives
There is no shortage of wellness incentives that you can use to encourage your employees. Here are just a few you can use to help your employees build better habits and live healthier lives.
A fitness incentive is meant to encourage more physical activity for the employee. Some employees may not enjoy working out, or just have trouble finding the time. Providing specific incentives to encourage more active behavior can push them to take advantage of those opportunities more often. These incentives can be given for going to the gym, attending a class a certain number of times, or keeping track of their daily exercise.
A health incentive is designed to encourage healthy behavior more generally, not just physical fitness. For many employees, healthy decisions are sometimes harder or more expensive to make. Not everyone has immediate access to options that are deemed healthy. Providing these incentives offers a reason to go out of their way to meet certain goals. Additionally, if these incentives are paired with a holistic wellness plan, then employees may receive the encouragement they need to take advantage of the opportunities an organization offers them. These incentives can be given when employees meet certain weight loss goals, after cooking at home a certain number of times, or for general nutritional wellness.
A personal incentive is focused solely on the individual health of the person. This moves away from the diet and exercise aspects and lets us focus on our mental and spiritual health as well. This encourages employees to take the time to take care of themselves. These are great for the busy world we live in. Between work, family, friends, and other chores, finding the time to prioritize ourselves can be difficult. These incentives can be used to encourage meditation, self-care time, and even journaling.
Professional incentives are aimed at rewarding those that care the most about their careers. Working is a part of wellness, and finding success can help some people feel valuable. Including things like educational resources, extra training, or coaching for a specific role in the company they may be interested in is a great way to incentivize hard work. However, keep in mind this may seem like rewarding toxic behaviors in certain instances. Be sure to prioritize every aspect of wellness with your incentives.
These types of incentives can be based on financial goals. Many of us wish we were better at saving money. 56% of Americans are unable to cover an emergency costing $1,000. Existing in a state of constant stress due to a general lack of stability in your finances can affect every aspect of your life. Many people struggle for a multitude of reasons. These types of incentives can give them help in prioritizing and achieving their financial goals. These can be used to encourage saving a certain amount of money each pay period or learning how to properly save money while still being able to treat yourself here and there.
Wellness Goals to Incentivize
When seeking out what types of incentives you can include in your plan, here are some ideas for what goals may warrant an employee receiving these incentives.
Diets are often built to fail. Nearly 80% of people that go on a diet will end up gaining over two-thirds of the weight lost back within 2 years of the diet “ending.” There have also been many negative connotations built around diets in recent years. Many studies have shown that most diets work only for a short time but are unlikely to create long-term habits. When incentivizing nutritional goals it’s important to keep this in mind. The goal of these wellness incentives and a wellness program is to help build healthier habits. While losing weight can be a product of that, eating healthier generally is the goal. Keeping that in mind, here are some nutritional goals to incentivize.
First, you can incentivize eating fruits and vegetables. Only 1 in 10 adults eat enough vegetables. You can incentivize each employee to get their daily amount of vegetables in their diet over a week.
You can also incentivize something like drinking water. When someone drinks the recommended amount of water each day they can receive a little reward to commemorate that.
Another great thing to incentivize is someone trying out a new diet for a period of time. This doesn’t actually mean diets, more like allowing people to explore other ways to eat. For example, someone could be vegan for a couple of weeks, or maybe try just being vegetarian. These can also be done in steps as someone weans themself off their normal diet. Transitioning between diets slowly can avoid any shock to the system and give them time to give up what they’re comfortable with.
Mental Health Goals
These goals are important to incentivize as they are usually the most forgotten aspects of health and wellness. Our mental health is directly linked to every other aspect of our health, so getting a little extra push to prioritize this type of health is key to ensuring we achieve holistic wellness.
One of the things that can be incentivized to promote mental health is taking up hobbies. These can be a multitude of things, including art, reading, writing, hiking, or just about anything the person enjoys doing. Encourage employees to take a certain amount of time each week to focus on their hobby and allow them to receive a reward for it.
Additionally, you can incentivize meditation time. Encouraging employees to unplug for a certain amount of time and reflect on the day or week is great to help them recenter and better address stress throughout their day.
On top of that, you can incentivize healthy stress management. Many of us may turn to unhealthy habits when we deal with extreme stress. This can cause far more harm than good. Encouraging healthy stress management through journaling, meditation, and other methods will improve a person’s overall health and avoid intense stress during those tough days.
This is another type of goal to be careful with. Like nutritional goals, the push is not necessarily to lose weight, but to build long-term healthy habits that can change and improve their life overall. Of course, this may mean they lose weight anyways, but our bodies fluctuate and healthy habits are the best way to build wellness over our lives.
There are many different types of fitness goals you can incentivize. For example, incentivizing people to exercise a certain number of times a week. This can be at home or at the gym. You can also incentivize employees to commit to and regularly attend a fitness class like yoga, or HIIT. Employees can spend a lot of time sitting. Encouraging more ways to get up and move will be great for their health and performance.
Creative Wellness Incentive Ideas
There are a lot of great habits you can incentivize, but it’s just as important to choose the right incentive for each habit you’re encouraging. Here are just a few you can use to get your employees excited about wellness.
These can be a great incentive for someone wanting to explore physical fitness more in-depth. The gym and exercise classes aren’t free, and this can be a barrier for anyone wanting to build healthy habits. Rewarding them for using these resources allows them to get the most out of it. You can reimburse fitness classes, gym memberships, and even home gym equipment.
This is another one that goes hand in hand with physical fitness but can be used for other types of wellness programs or challenges as well. Many people may be afraid to commit to buying fitness gear because they are unsure how committed they will be to that journey. Allowing them to start their journey, discover if they enjoy it, then incentivizing further exploration with proper attire and gear can be a great way to help them discover new ways they can keep active. This can include proper attire, shoes, and extra equipment for their method of activity.
There are a multitude of health and wellness apps on the market, but sifting through all of them to find the best one can be exhausting. Even if you find one you like there is typically a subscription fee associated with using the app. Providing a subscription directly to employees takes out the guesswork and allows them to dive into the features of the app immediately. These apps can also cover a wide range of wellness types. There are fitness, mental health, and nutritional apps available. Now they can spend more time on their wellness, instead of attempting to find that perfect app.
Massages are not cheap, and oftentimes people aren’t seeking them out because they’re treated like a luxury. Providing special vouchers can help employees think of massages in a different way and understand how massages can be a useful tool for wellness.
Spending so much time at the office, or at our desk at home can be bad for our health. Providing special upgrades to incentivize changing how we work can be a great way to encourage new habits. This can include standing desks, ergonomic keyboards, or even blue light glasses. All of these can make working an office job feel a little less demanding on the body.
To learn more about what you can do to promote employee wellness, speak with a wellbeing specialist 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.