Many companies today are looking for the best way to promote a sense of healthy living in their employees. It’s become a more frequent inquiry now that healthcare reform is a consistent topic of conversation. One answer we suggest is implementing health incentive programs.

Millennials Seek Healthier Work Environments

So why has living a healthier lifestyle become so important to employers? Because more and more research indicates that a healthy workforce minimizes absenteeism, increases employee morale, productivity and higher employee retention.  And many of the younger “millennial” employees research the various health incentive programs that are offered before they make a commitment to a workplace. That’s why you will find more and more of the larger employers offering on-site gyms to their employees. Having a gym is not a health incentive program but more of a “perk” unless there are goals and incentives in place for participation.  One of our local employers  not only offers a gym, but they also offer a lounge where their employees can take a few minutes to relax, even take a nap! Initially I was shocked (although secretly I loved the idea of an afternoon cat nap) but as it was further explained, many of their employees are mothers with little time for themselves. If they can just close their eyes for 15 minutes they are recharged! Talk about an incentive to come to work every day. A few minutes of peace. Again, not a formal health incentive program but definitely a company that understands part of the equation for a healthy workforce.

Health Incentive Programs include Corporate Run Participation

Team Events Promotes Healthy Living & Competition

Granted,  some companies offer employees financial incentives for  maintaining their health, however, many shy away from implementing  a financial incentive for fear that those that don’t achieve the goals will be even more de-motivated when they are penalized by losing their financial incentive (number one below is an example of a financially incentive based program).

Health Incentive Programs Promote Teamwork

As companies embrace the healthy lifestyle concept they are combining a number of elements to encourage participation including promoting teamwork, prizes and recognition. Some of the health incentive program offerings include:

  1. Sign up for weight loss, smoking cessation, healthy eating programs, etc and receive a reduced premium on your health insurance for reaching certain goals (note of caution, you need to make sure that those that are “healthy” are not discriminated against). Another less potentially discriminatory option Is to offer the financial incentive for participating in a health assessment
  2. Provide on-site work-out facilities and/or classes (yoga, Pilates, CrossFit, etc) and those that achieve certain goals receive recognition and/or prizes
  3. Encourage participation/competition among divisions/departments in team events like running/walking in local races (Corporate Runs, 5K, full/half marathons) and providing team shirts, prizes
  4. Provide healthy cooking classes/demonstrations and competitions among employees to come up with healthy meals and publishing “their” cookbook for all employees (also a great team-building and employee engagement activity)
  5. Online wellness programs and assessments with incentives for the whole organization/department to participate
  6. Partnering with local businesses for discounts on fitness club membership, healthy food stores,  personal fitness coaches, yoga & Pilate studios, nutrition assessments and more

    Yoga Great Stress Relievers

    Partnering with Local Business for Health Incentives

  7. Promote taking the stairs (signs throughout the building) or lunchtime walking clubs (pedometers are a popular element of these types of programs)
  8. Spring/Summer Training program  promoting people to get moving – basically promote activity for 30 minutes 5 days a week – participants fill out a chart of their daily activities and are entered into drawings for weekly prizes with those completing the program entered into the chance for the grand prize

Before you begin your program, it is best to get feedback from your employees to gain insight as to what would work best. Those programs that are more inclusive of all levels of employees are more likely to succeed in helping you achieve a healthy workforce.

Danette Gossett

Danette brings more than 30 years of experience developing advertising campaigns, direct marketing programs and sales promotions to her clients. Prior to starting her companies, she worked for New York advertising agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi & Lowe Marschalk.

Her corporate marketing experience included National Advertising Director for Avis Rent a Car Systems, Inc., and Director of Marketing Services for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Read More