Behaviour change is one of the most difficult things for us to accomplish.  People tend to stick to usual routines and prefer doing things the way they always have.  Many resist unfamiliar habits – even if they are good for us!

The goal of a wellness program is to encourage employees to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle for the long-term.  In most cases, however, unless they are motivated, most people will have a hard time making healthy lifestyle changes.  This is where incentives can help.  Incentives can help encourage, engage, and maintain participation, which helps support behaviour change.

  1. Consider your company culture and your approach to wellness and health promotion. Ensure that program messaging and the incentives you choose are aligned with these elements.
  2. Communicate with employees and listen to what they are looking for in a wellness program and what types of incentives will motivate them to participate. If you have a large team, ask a smaller focus group like a well-represented wellness committee or wellness champions.
  3. Recognize the value of the financial investment associated with workplace wellness and set a realistic budget. Incentives can fall into a range of cost categories, and even low-cost incentives can be effective if selected appropriately.  (This is where communication with employees is key.)
  4. Determine how your incentive program will be executed. Will you award prizes to teams or individuals?  Will you draw ballots in the event of a tie?  Be sure to communicate specifics clearly at the beginning to avoid confusion or disappointment, which can negatively impact engagement.
  5. Spend time doing your research to avoid a trial-and-error approach. Monitor and track your incentive program and incorporate employee feedback to determine when and where changes are needed.

While most of us do like incentives, make an effort not to include them with every initiative.  The fundamental goal of workplace wellness is promoting healthy living, and intrinsic reward is most important!  Kudos at a staff meeting is also a great way to recognize success.  Pick and choose when to use incentives and stick to that plan.

Here are some incentive ideas to consider for your program:

Need some more assistance?

Get your FREE Corporate Wellness Membership 90-Day Starter Kit to get you started!  Employee Wellness Solutions Network can help you create a healthier culture resulting in a more profitable and successful workplace. Our memberships give you access to services including corporate wellness specialists, trainers and health coaches to help you create the best strategy for your organization.  To learn more about the memberships, visit Employee Wellness Solutions Network.