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Wellness Incentives – Are They Right For You?

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Wellness incentives are just one of many ways employers can choose to provide to their employees. Typically, these incentives include such things as gym memberships, free flu shots and health screenings, smoking cessation courses, or other things that help to promote health and wellness. But employees aren't the only ones who benefit from these services; oftentimes, wellness incentives are cost effective and can end up saving the company money in the long term.

Are Wellness Incentives Right for You?

Wellness incentives can be costly, so some employers are more apt to shy away from them. However, many people see wellness incentives as a win-win situation for all involved. Employees who take advantage of wellness incentives benefit through improved health. With this improved health comes fewer doctor visits and treatments; as a result, the employer can then lower their health plan utilization, which results in health benefit costs. Thus, wellness benefits are an attractive option for the many employers who are feeling the pinch of health benefit costs. One study estimated that in general, employers can earn back the cost of programs over the course of five years if they can reduce risk factors as a result of wellness programs by less than 0.2 percent.

Not only that, but employees who utilize incentive programs are more likely to be healthier. As a result, they take fewer sick days and are more productive for the company.

Making Wellness Incentives Work for You

Obviously, wellness incentives won't save the company money if the employees aren't utilizing them. The following are some ideas that will help your company to maximize its decision to implement wellness incentives.

  • Lead by example. Someone always needs to take the first step, so let it be the company's owners and members of top management. When the company's leaders are enthusiastic about the programs, they can influence the company culture and change it to one of health and wellness.

  •  Find out what your employees want. If no one in your company smokes, it would be useless to offer smoking cessation courses for free. Instead, take surveys and then try to implement the programs your employees show interest in. If you have a significant number of people who have bad backs, offer massages or chiropractic visits. Rarely will you go wrong with weight loss tools and seminars - many people would like to lose weight.

  •  Consider programs that involve the whole family. Oftentimes, family habits and lifestyles impact everyone. Wellness problems that involve the whole family are more likely to be utilized.

  •  Make it convenient. If you have wellness benefits onsite, employees are more likely to use them. Hold health screenings or flu vaccinations in conference rooms, or consider putting a workout room somewhere in the office. Some companies bring massage therapists in during particularly stressful times. In addition, you can pass out health and wellness packets.

  •  Offer incentives. Some companies have found success from offering incentives to employees, either through point systems or honor systems. For example, you can offer $100 to employees who manage to stay smoke free for 6 months. Or give gift certificates to those who work out 3 times a week for 8 weeks. Be creative when encouraging employees to be well.

While wellness programs and incentives seem costly, oftentimes they pay for themselves in the long run. Not only do health premiums drop, but employees are more likely to be happier, take less sick days, and be more productive on the job.

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Posted by DF
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