More large companies offering outcome-based incentives for wellness programs

When trying to craft wellness programs that motivate workers to become or stay fit and healthy, employers may consider offering workers incentives. Large corporations are increasingly providing workers with incentives based on positive outcomes, such as through meeting biometric thresholds, according to a survey by benefits software provider bswift. As companies become more aware of the benefits of wellness programs, they may want to determine which incentives suit their budgets and their employees’ needs. 

Brad Wolfsen, executive director for exchange solutions at bswift, said outcomes-based measurements for wellness programs result in improvements to employee health and business cost savings. With these benefits in mind, companies are expanding their wellness programs and boosting incentives if employees meet the company’s wellness goals. Having more workers who live healthy lifestyles may translate into lower workers compensation costs from fewer injuries and illness in the workplace. Workers who are healthier also may be able to return to work faster when they do become injured or ill, which lessens the impact absences have on productivity in the workplace.

The study showed 83% of large employers have wellness programs, up from 78% in 2013. In addition to more employers having wellness programs, the availability of incentives rose. The bswift study found 24% of employers with a payroll of more than 500 workers eligible for benefits in 2014 gave their workers incentives if they were able to meet or surpass their biometric benchmarks. This is a 9% increase from the previous year and almost double the number from 2012. Biometric testing and a health risk assessment (HRA) were the top wellness program offerings for programs with incentives.

Compliance with wellness program regulations
While companies are considering using new approaches to get workers motivated and join available wellness programs, they also may want to determine how they can boost participation rates. The survey found employee participation rates decreased, Web publication EHS Today reported.

“The decrease in wellness participation rates underscores the ongoing challenge of maintaining employee engagement in wellness efforts and the importance of aligning program design, communications and incentives to maximize a program’s impact while integrating with the corporate culture,” Wolfsen said, according to EHS Today.

When implementing a wellness program in the workplace, employers may want to review wellness program regulations under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to ensure compliance. The proposed rules of the ACA concerning wellness programs were in effect starting Jan. 1. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) states that wellness programs should support health or prevent disease. Employers may want to consider how they can offer a different way employees can qualify for rewards if they do not meet a standard that is determined by measurement, test or screening.

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