Incentive Planning for 2013

[quotetext]Now is a good time to begin looking at your program and budget planning for your Walkingspree wellness program as well as your wellness program as a whole. [/quotetext]

These good intentions, however, need to be matched by the participation of employees, if you truly wish to see a return on investment. So how do you motivate employees to participate in their own well-being? Incentives! For those who are embarking on their second or even third year of your walking wellness program, you are already aware that incentives and how you structure your incentive design are just as important to the program, as the program components itself. It is this detail that determines if what you are asking as a company is worth the time and effort of your employee. Based on some of the principles of behavioral economics, the most effective way to get people engaged and remain engaged is to create an atmosphere where they can be acknowledged for their achievement and where they feel the rewards are relevant and worth the effort or risk.

Emotions are also a good motivator in getting people involved because people want to feel good about what they are doing. It’s the same feeling you get when see your “A+” quiz on the refrigerator or you get a pat on the back for doing a good job. Recognizing someone for their accomplishments, particularly in regards to their peers, allows them to feel good about their efforts, gives them a sense of pride and it opens up an opportunity for them to share their story. By providing continuous communication about the program and those who are making strides throughout the challenge will creating a relatable experience for those around them. Walkingspree recommends having two to three challenges set for the program year so that each will set the stage for more involvement than the last. We all love a good success story, and in celebrating that achievement it will continue to drive that person to maintain their efforts, it will inspire others that they too can reach the same success, and it will generate an atmosphere of support and encouragement among colleagues and beyond.

When it comes to rewards, the question always remains do the means justify the reward. The same is true for wellness incentives. Receiving a $20 gift card for completing a health risk assessment or a $25 prize for completing a preventive exam certainly seems reasonable, but most wellness programs are about more than just a visit to the doctor, they are truly about changing lifestyle behaviors. In order to keep employees involved and excited about the program, know what your employees like and really ask them what will motivate them. Granted, a discount on health care premiums is a great way to keep up participation, but other incentives like additional paid leave or funds to a 401k or HSA will also work. It has also been proven that incentives do not need to be monetary. Providing prizes that people would not otherwise do or purchase for themselves are a stronger incentive than cash. Many clients will provide small incentives like movie tickets or a bottle of wine for reaching a certain number of steps and then raffles for rewards like hotel stays or vacations at the end of the challenge. More so providing grand prizes, through a lottery concept, at the end of the year has also proven to sustain participation throughout the program year. By structuring your program to include a combination of incentives and opportunities to win big is an excellent way to uphold motivation. People get more pleasure from a reward when it is something they feel was worth the effort and when the reward is itself enjoyable.

Budgeting for incentives has to be part of the design planning as you look towards your upcoming Walkingspree program and overall wellness program. In looking at our block of business, those clients who budget an average of $25 per employee per year have seen the most success with their program. In a 2009 survey conducted by Buck Consultants, employers spent on average $220 per employee for wellness incentives. This number has increased by 35% from their 2009 survey where the average was $163 per employee. With health care premiums on the rise, and more employees opting to take part in a company provided benefits, the budget for wellness incentives becomes that much more important. Knowing how much you can put towards rewards and providing new relevant rewards to your population will work to keep ongoing programs from getting stale and to keep members interactive so that those health care premiums go down.

Our goal at Walkingspree is to provide a simple solution to your wellness program for engaging your members and creating better lifestyle habits. Incentives are one of the key factors in developing that successful wellness program. It can critically impact whether an employee opts in or opts out of the program. In using some of the ideologies of behavioral economics and identifying some of the ways people act and think, it’s easy to see the incentives and the incentive structure as the foundation for participation. By providing incentives that are both gratifying and worth the effort and creating an environment where people can be recognized for their accomplishments is a good step in the right direction.

2013 is just around the corner, be sure to work incentives into your budget. If you are entering your second year of the program, your program costs incurred are less than your first year that included program setup costs and pedometer costs. This is an ideal solution to incorporate those funds into incentives. If you have questions about how to structure them into your program, please contact your Walkingspree Account Manager.

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