Employee Wellness Incentive Programs

Corporate Wellness Incentives

Employee Wellness Incentive Programs

Employee Wellness Incentive Programs: Why They Matter

Employee Wellness Incentive Programs are a key benchmark for the success of a wellness program.  Strong employee wellness incentive programs will inspire workers to participate in the employee wellness programs. By far the most common element of employee wellness incentive programs is the use of lower medical plan payments. According to American Healthways, it is generally accepted that a $25-$30 reduction in monthly staff contributions for medical coverage will truly encourage higher participation. With that type of motivator, an organization can expect 80% of its workers to participate in the plan.

Organizations may consider other types of employee wellness incentive programs that reward in participation in employee wellness programs, other incentives or rewards for participating in a employee wellness programs, including:

  • Reduced copay or deductible requirements
  • Corporation-funded contributions to a medical Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
  • Access to an better medical plan offering a higher level of coverage than the employee wellness programs available to employees who don’t participate in health promotion.

Some organizations are taking their employee wellness incentive programs to the next level. The next level involves tying the employee wellness incentive programs to actual results. Tying incentives to results must be done with caution. The structure of incentive programs tied to specific outcomes must not violate HIPAA non-discrimination laws. Be certain, Be sure that that your employee wellness incentive programs comply with the HIPAA laws for a “bona fide” wellness program detailed in the previous section.

Examples of tying rewards to outcomes include:

  • If the results of a Health Risk Assessment screening finds that an individual is at high risk, the company can make it mandatory the individual to participate in a follow up program or pay a financial penalty.
  • Many Health Risk Assessments give points. The incentive can tied to an individual achieving a certain number of points to receive a monetary reward.

Never forget one of the key HIPAA regulations. If an member is unable achieve one of the required program measures, the employee wellness programs must have a reasonable alternative. One particular health promotion provider meets this requirement by getting the worker’s physician sign a letter verifying the worker has complied with all the physician’s treatment recommendations. The letter would be prepared by the employee wellness programs and customized to the employee.

How should employee wellness incentive programs be established?

Even health promotion companies have different answers to this question. One method is that initially employers should make available rewards and incentives for individuals to participate in the employee wellness programs. In the following year, the company can become, over time more assertive and tie rewards and incentives to outcomes.

Another school of thought regarding employee wellness incentive programs, however, is to make available participation incentives only. These businesses are convinced that the catalyst to change must come from inside the person. For an person to make difficult behavior and lifestyle changes, such as quitting tobacco, the person must have the desire to quit. A penalty for failing to change the lifestyle will not work. Any company starting a health promotion program needs to consider this question carefully. The method your company takes with employee wellness incentive programs should be in line with your company’s culture.

The Watson Wyatt survey also asked about employee wellness incentive programs. Surprisingly, 52% of respondents were not offering any rewards and incentives to participate in the employee wellness programs. Of the 47% that offer employee wellness incentive programs, rewards and incentives included the following:

  • 29% provided monetary payments
  • 15% provided lowered medical copayments
  • 30% provided member reimbursement of a program cost
  • 48% responded “other.” This section included things like contributions to FSAs, raffle give-a-ways, gift certificates, company sponsored wellness screening costs, time off from work, company sponsored weight loss coaching and so on