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Webinar Recap: Reaping the Rewards – An Integrated Approach to Employee Health Incentives

April 28, 2011 / Corporate Wellness

Last week was Workforce Management’s 2011 Online Benefits Conference.  As part of the conference, Paul Hebert, managing director and lead consultant for Incentive Intelligence, and I presented the webinar, “Reaping the Rewards: An Integrated Approach to Employee Health Incentives.”  The audience asked some great questions. In fact, there were so many that we couldn’t get to all of them.  Here are a few we couldn’t get to:

What’s the best way to find out what motivates employees, and what incentives would be most effective?

Put simply, ask them. Different people are drawn to different kinds of activities, and are motivated by different things.  It’s important to get an idea from those whose health you want to improve what they want in a program and what will keep them motivated.  That said, be prepared for a variety of responses, and choose programs that are flexible.  Don’t assume one size fits all when it comes to changing health behaviors.  We conducted a survey about what keeps members motivated to reach long-term health goals, and program flexibility ranked number one, edging out incentives.  For a program to really work, employees want programs that are available when, where and how they want them.

We have not offered any formal wellness program to date. We know we have some serious chronic health conditions in our group and we want to manage this more proactively. Our health provider-HMO offers some wellness education and management programs. That participation is relatively low. How much would you suggest we begin with or what key areas tend to drive the best participation in a brand new program?

I’m not surprised to hear that participation in education-based programs is low.  It typically is.  Not only that, you don’t have any way of knowing if they’re doing any good.

Understanding the value and importance of a healthy lifestyle is very important, but we find that the best way to learn is by doing.  By getting out there, getting active, and experiencing the health benefits for yourself.  So start with a physical activity program – everybody can participate in it, and you’ll find that the more active your employees are, the more likely they are to engage in other healthy behaviors.   And physical activity is easy to measure – which allows you to see how much your employees are increasing their activity and gives you insight into the effectiveness of your program.

In terms of how much to offer, not all incentives plans need to be Cadillacs.  I’ve seen a range of incentives work based on a range of budgets, and every workforce is different, so there isn’t one specific amount that works best.  Like I mentioned earlier, it really depends on what’s going to appeal to your workforce and what’s going to help drive the behaviors you’re looking to change.  Effective providers should be able to work with you to design a structure that’s going to meet your needs. 

Our HR team is on board with offering wellness programs, but senior management does not feel the same. What strategies do you suggest to present to senior management?

First, I’d ask you this question: does the program you want to offer allow you to accurately measure its effectiveness?  To point to quantifiable outcomes?  If it doesn’t, I’d reconsider the program before approaching senior management because data, measurement, and ways to prove that it’s working are what they want to see.  They’re most likely used to wellness programs that don’t offer any of that, so they can’t justify the investment.  But programs rooted in technology can provide you with the verifiable data you need to measure outcomes and show that it’s working to improve employee health.  That’s something they should get on board for.

Missed the session?  Check out the complete webinar recording, including audience questions, on our website.  If you have questions, feel free to post them and we’ll answer them here on The Uprising.

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