Survey Shows an Increase in Wellness Incentive Values
According to a recently released study by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), most companies surveyed plan to increase the dollar value of the incentives they're offering employees to participate in wellness or health-improvement programs.
The findings also concluded that nearly 75% of companies used incentives in 2011 to enhance engagement in the programs with an average incentive of $460 - an increase of almost $200 since 2009. The study accordingly stated that employers used varying types of incentives ranging from cash and contributions to HSA's and gift cards with the majority agreeing that incentive-based programs had a better than expected. "Incentives have come a long way from a free t-shirt and a water bottle," said Adam Stavisky, Senior Vice President of Fidelity's Benefits Consulting business, which commissioned this study by the NBGH. "As companies have increased their commitment and investment in health-improvement programs, they have made their incentives more enticing. They've also learned which programs resonate best with their workforce, whether that involves on-site flu shots or weight loss challenges. Now employers are starting to see results from their efforts."
More Companies Require Participation in Health-Improvement Programs
A small but growing number of companies are requiring employees to participate in health-improvement programs in order to be eligible for medical benefits.
Aside from Incentives, Funding for Wellness Programs Hold Steady
The average employer spent $169 per employee on wellness programs in 2011.
Fidelity and the National Business Group on Health Offer Employers Five Action Steps to Help Maximize Program Effectiveness
The majority (76 percent) of companies surveyed reported they do not know the return on their investment in health-improvement programs. To help employers maximize the impact and effectiveness of their offerings, Fidelity and the Business Group offer five suggestions.
1.Secure commitment from senior management
Employees are more likely to engage when there is encouragement from senior executives.
2. Align programs with the health risks and challenges of the workforce
Determine what the pressing health issues are (e.g. high blood pressure) and offer solutions. Don't offer diabetes management services if that illness is not a significant health risk for most workers.
3. Set realistic goals and measure results
Define what the desired behavior is (e.g., weight loss) and track it.
4. Offer incentives that appeal to the workforce
Collect feedback from employees on what is appealing and discontinue incentives that aren't working.
5. Manage vendors by establishing performance requirements
Employers should consolidate employee data collected from multiple vendors and measure the results. Vendors should be held accountable if the results fall short of objectives.