Wellness Incentives: Everyone Doesn’t Have to Get a Trophy

Perhaps the most common incentives for participating in a wellness activity are rewards offered to all employees who complete the activity, as in, “Everyone who completes this challenge will win a water bottle.” But is there a way to offer incentives that don’t provide a payout to everyone? The answer is “Yes”. Can it be just as effective? Again, a resounding “Yes”.

A growing trend in wellness incentives is to give employees the chance to win…BIG. Many employees will gladly trade a sure-thing small reward for the chance to win something more alluring. Instead of the promise of a $25 gift card to complete a Health Risk Assessment, an employer may share, “Everyone who completes the HSA will be entered into a drawing for a $400 Yeti cooler, just in time for summer.” Sure, there will always be those of us who would prefer a sure $25, but the chance to win something nicer may be much more motivating to most of our employees.

This form of incentivizing can also be less expensive for the employer. For instance, the cost of giving $25 gift cards to 500 employees will cost the employer $12,500. However, if they give away five $350 Apple watches to people whose names were drawn from among all the participants, they have saved $10,750 and will likely get the same level of participation.

Obviously, what is considered BIG will vary depending on the average wages and demographics of your organization. A chance at a Yeti cooler may work for one company. For another, it may take an all-expenses-paid vacation to Hawaii.

More tantalizing and less expensive sounds like a winning proposal!

Jack Bruce serves as the Director of Population Health and Wellbeing at The Benefit Company in Atlanta, Georgia, where he supports the employee benefits consultants and client teams in developing health promotion, disease management, and wellbeing strategies.

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