There are many types of wellness programs employers may implement to encourage their workforce to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Yet, not all wellness initiatives are created equal, and the success of a program may depend on factors other than the initiative itself. According to Healthiest Employers, incenting workers to implement healthy eating and a fitness regime may not be the best long-term strategy for employers to reduce injuries and illnesses.
The issue of incenting wellness
Some employers have adopted programs that provide workers with rewards for hitting their fitness goals or for reducing how many times a week they smoke. While these types of initiatives may produce results in the short-term, if the workplace environment doesn’t encourage workers to stay healthy in the future, employers may see employees fall back into the same unhealthy habits.
According to Healthiest Employers, workers may eat their vegetables and fruits to receive their incentive, but if employers don’t reduce the obstacles barring employees’ from adopting healthy habits, such as potato chips in the vending machine, workers may not be able to hold onto their results for long. Wells Fargo suggested understanding there are many factors that can mitigate the benefits of an incentive-based wellness program, and they may help employers understand the challenges with implementing an initiative focused on providing rewards. According to Wells Fargo, these incentives may not be entirely fair to the workforce, as certain employees may not be smokers and will therefore not receive a reward for their healthy choice.
In fact, Wells Fargo reported the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) limits the value of incentives group health plans can offer at 20% of the total cost of insurance.
Ways to cultivate health
For wellness programs to be effective, employers may need to adjust other areas of the workplace as well, such as the worksite or office environment and employee relations. According to Healthiest Employers, encouraging workers to adopt health habits relies on surrounding them with an environment that inspires fitness and nutritious eating. The source suggested employers identify things in the workplace that may be discouraging workers from achieving their wellness goals.
For example, while yoga classes may help workers reduce their stress levels and become physically fit, employees may not be able to enjoy the long-term benefits because of an adverse work environment. Employers may want to ask employees to confidentially provide their feelings about the workplace to help determine what may need to be changed.
If employers can identify and control negative elements, it may mean a positive turnaround in employee production and well-being.