Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

An Added Benefit: More Businesses Using Incentives to Entice Employee Participation in Wellness Programs

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

An Added Benefit: More Businesses Using Incentives to Entice Employee Participation in Wellness Programs

Article excerpt

As the presence of wellness programs increases in today's workplaces, more businesses are offering a variety of incentives in an effort to increase employee participation and ultimately improve employees' health, save on insurance costs and boost productivity.

The types of rewards companies are offering are both financial and non-cash, including gift cards, merchandise, travel, time off, and even simple praise and recognition.

When businesses are trying to decide what types of incentives to offer, Jodi Smith, Health at Work supervisor at the Oklahoma City- County Health Department, said it is important to implement a plan that is appropriate for your company's work force and based on employee feedback.

"Get leadership on board. Find out what fits best for every employee in the company. If you have a company that has office staff and warehouse staff, time off may not be available for warehouse staff so you have to find incentives that are fair to everybody. Definitely ask your employees what they are interested in as far as rewards and incentives go because that will help you base your program around what you are interested in," Smith said.

Smith said some of the most popular incentives she has seen that companies are using are paid time off and cash rewards. She said companies interested in learning more about offering wellness incentives can participate in the health department's Health at Work Coalition, a networking tool for businesses to gain information and share ideas about incentives and other issues regarding work-site wellness programs.

"I see a lot of wellness programs going from participation-based to outcome-based programs," she said. "We have so many participation programs that employees have been involved for a few years. Now they say, that's great you participated. Now show us - did you lower your blood pressure, lower BMI? …

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