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One of the hottest topics today is healthcare and wellness. For instance, in November 2013 The Today Show encouraged all the men to not shave as a way of highlighting men’s health and the importance of regular check-ups. In January 2014 they introduced another initiative called Shine the Light on the importance of healthy living by asking communities to work out with The Today Show team.
As wellness continues to become a larger part of our everyday awareness, is a wellness incentive program right for your company? It often depends on what you want to achieve and how many employees you may have. Wellness incentive programs have been around for a very long time in many different forms. Think about companies that had/have a basketball court out back and encourage employees to play some hoops on their breaks. This could be a very basic wellness program but it doesn’t really include an incentive, other than maybe relieving some stress.
Benefits of Wellness Incentive Programs
To make a wellness program more successful companies today add an incentive for participation and for achieving specific goals at various intervals. Many companies see the advantage of promoting healthier living with better food and exercise. Companies can see a decrease in sick days, overall illness, employees are better able to deal with daily stress and are more productive, more engaged and overall happier employees. This is an especially important element for the millennials in the workforce.
A large corporate client of ours has a comprehensive wellness incentive program and they have realized all the results indicated above. The program has also made a difference to their out of pocket expenses as well as their overall bottom line. They have a state of the art gym on the premises, weight watchers meetings, healthy meals daily in the cafeteria and encourage group/department participation in local 5k’s, marathons, and more (often with a competitive component thrown in).
They offer specific rewards for their employees to achieve certain goals. It can range from a free water bottle or work-out towel to month’s free use of a trainer in the gym and more. They also recognize the success stories of employees with posters highlighting the wellness winner of the month on every floor. The employees love it.
Another client started the new year off with pedometers for all their employees that wanted them. Those that signed up and achieve the 10,000 steps a day are entered into a chance to win fun weekly prizes. I’ve already heard talk in the halls about how many steps people are taking and I’m seeing more people on the stairs (which used to be deserted!).
Another firm is doing their own form of the “Biggest Loser”. Everyone puts money in the “pot” each month and the one that loses the most overall body fat wins the monthly pot! What amazed the company organizer was that even though all the employees weren’t participating everyone seemed to get in a healthier spirit. Seeing their team mates losing weight and getting fit encouraged them to do the same thing (even without a chance to win).
No matter how you structure your program, do keep in mind that you cannot force an employee to participate.
As you can see, you don’t necessarily have to be a large company or spend a lot of money to have a successful wellness incentive program. Just make sure you have the goals of the program, length of the time the program will be in affect and your incentives all worked out before you launch the program to your employees.
So, let’s all get started!