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home / Press Room

Wellness Managers' Use Of Incentives For
Program Participation Continues To Grow


MANASQUAN, NJ --
May 11, 2007 -- Offering cash-based incentives and rewards to drive participation in workplace wellness programs continues to grow among U.S. employers, according to results of a workplace wellness management survey conducted by Wellness Program Management Advisor and Wellness Junction.

Almost 70 percent of wellness managers now encourage employee participation in wellness programs through incentives or rewards, up from 54.7 percent of managers who used incentives in 2003, the survey of professionals responsible for the management or
administration of worksite wellness and health promotion programs found.

Among the types of incentives offered, cash-based rewards were the most popular, the survey found. An estimated 67.8 percent of wellness managers used cash-based incentives in 2006, the most recent  year available, compared to 63.9 percent in 2003.

Cash bonuses as incentives were given by 32.2 percent of managers, compared to 16.3 percent in 2003.

Percentages of rewarding participants who are already healthy and fit have also increased from 56.8 percent in 2003 to currently 66.1 percent.

As for what the incentive programs focused on, participation was the highest with 66.9 percent. Other aspects included:
  • HRA participation at 40.7 percent
  • Proof of program attendance at 33.9 percent
  • Behavior change at 33.1 percent
  • Outcomes at 27.1 percent 
  • "Other" motivations at 5.9 percent
  • In 2003, behavior change was the highest percentage at 32.3 percent
  • Proof of attendance at 25.8 percent
  • "Other" at 22.6 percent 
  • Outcome was the last factor at 19.4 percent
Cash seems to offer the most variety in terms of offering employees continuously different incentives, said survey participant Jenell Brown-Shrader, a Health and wellness educator at Netcare Life and Health Insurance.

"I think incentives are useful but they need to be creative and varied,"  Shrader said. "Interesting new incentives keep people motivated instead of the same old T-shirt, etc. Our use of gift certificates with varying cash values for massages, health and fitness magazine
subscriptions, health food stores, sporting goods and fitness equipment stores, golf packages, water parks and resort packages are some of the new things we have and are trying."

Wellness professionals also reported using cash incentives in the form of discounts to fitness centers or healthcare costs.

A disease management coordinator at a health system that operates two hospitals, a large medical group and ancillary service, Pamela G. Sikes, offers "Healthy Dollars" – vouchers participants can use for co-pays at pharmacies, eyecare centers and other services within the healthcare system.

"We truly feel that financial is the best way to incentivize participation," Sikes said. "Giving ‘Healthy Dollars’ to be used for medically necessary items works well with those with chronic diseases ... "

An employee assistance director at a governmental agency EAP, whose incentive program focuses on behavior change, also saw a dramatic increase in participation in its fitness and wellness programs by rewarding reduced fees in fitness centers (onsite or contracted),
free annual medical screenings, free onsite smoking cessation programs and free weight reduction programs.

Corporate Operations Manager Priscilla Bengston at Healthtrax, an employee wellness provider, reported that her wellness program has achieved an approximate participation rate of 80 percent, by placing incentives into employee benefits plans.

"Much of the success has been the fact that the (wellness) program and incentive is tied into our benefits plan," Bengston said. "Employees receive a discounted rate on their co-insurance for completing the simple steps. Those who do not comply with the program components are dropped from the program and cannot re-enroll until the next year’s re-enrollment period. This way employees understand that this is a benefit just like their medical, dental and 401k. We believe bundling the package of program
components ... strengthens our program participation."

Non-cash-based incentives included tee shirts, fitness equipment, healthy cookbooks, travel fitness packs, apparel, raffles and gift cards, the report found.

Incentives should be strategically given. If an incentive is always expected with little effort, it does not have the same impact overall, said Paola Ball, fitness/wellness manager at Phoenix College. "Moreover, it is important for people to be driven through their own
commitment ... for the long-term behavior change. Some of the most successful programs have been those that do not put the emphasis on the prize; rather, the emphasis is placed on congratulating participants for their own commitment to wellness and their own health."

This survey was conducted online among wellness professionals and subscribers to Wellness Program Management Adviser, The Wellness Junction Professional Update and members of the Wellness Managers Professional Discussion Group.

A free report on workplace and health promotion, “Predicting the Future of Workplace Wellness Management: Bright, Growing, Transforming,” is available to wellness professionals and may be downloaded at:
http://www.healthrespubs.com/FreeReports/18mgt.htm

Address: Wellness Program Management Advisor, 1913 Atlantic Avenue, Suite F5, Manasquan, NJ 08736; (732) 292-1100, www.wellnessjunction.com.

Does Your Organization Have Formal Incentives or Rewards for
Participation in Your Workplace Wellness Program?


Yes
No
2006
70.3%
29.7%
2003
54.7%
45.8%
Source: Workplace Wellness Management Survey, Wellness Program Management Advisor, 2006

If Yes, Do You Offer Cash Incentives or Other Type Rewards?

Yes
No
2006
67.8%
18.6%
2003
63.9%
36.1%
Source: Workplace Wellness Management Survey, Wellness Program  Management Advisor, 2006

Do You Offer Cash Bonus Incentives?

Yes
No
2006
32.3%
63.6%
2003
16.3%
83.7%
Source: Workplace Wellness Management Survey, Wellness Program  Management Advisor, 2006

Are All Participants, Including the Healthy and Fit, Rewarded?

Yes
No
2006
66.1%
26.3%
2003
56.8%
43.2%
Source: Workplace Wellness Management Survey, Wellness Program  Management Advisor, 2006

What Does Your Incentive Program Focus On?

Behavior Change
HRP Participation
Other
Outcome
Participation
Proof of Program
   Attendance
2006
33.1%
40.7%
5.9%
27.1%
66.9%

33.9%
2003
32.3%
N/A
22.6%
19.4%
N/A

25.8%
Source: Workplace Wellness Management Survey, Wellness Program Management Advisor, 2006

www.wellnessjunction.com
For Information Contact:
Robert K. Jenkins, Sr.
732-292-1100, Ext. 12

©2007 Health Resources Publishing


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