6 Steps to develop an effective wellness incentives and rewards plan
By: Jennie Overton
A successful well-being program involves more than just promoting healthy habits among employees. It requires a thoughtful approach to incentivizing and rewarding participation. A well-designed wellness incentives and rewards plan can motivate employees to actively engage in the program, driving positive behavioral changes and fostering a culture of well-being within the organization. Incentives and rewards can be crafted to show care and utilized as powerful tools to support employees in reaching their well-being goals.
To develop an effective wellness incentive program, there are six essential steps to consider. These steps encompass understanding your employees’ needs, setting clear goals, designing meaningful incentives, implementing a fair reward structure, fostering continuous engagement, and regularly evaluating and refining your plan. By following these steps, you can establish a comprehensive framework that not only encourages employees to embrace healthier lifestyles but also ensures sustained program success and maximum return on investment for your organization.
Let’s explore six essential steps for developing effective wellness program incentives:
1. Identify the target behavior that you want to incentivize or reward
The first step is to identify the specific behavior or performance you want to encourage. Whether it’s specific progress toward employees’ well-being goals, participation or engagement, defining the desired behavior is essential for designing a targeted and impactful plan. Once the behavior or behaviors are identified, clearly communicate the incentive or reward to the employee. (E.g., you will receive a $50 gift card for completing your health screening or a PTO day.)
2. Understand your employees’ motivations for wellness incentives and rewards
Different motivations drive every individual, especially across industries, job tasks, organization, and demographics. To create the best wellness program incentives and rewards plan that resonates with your employees, you first have to understand what motivates them. Conduct pulse surveys, polls, or have one-on-one conversations to gain insights into their preferences and aspirations. You can also use managers as sources of information about employee motivations. This understanding will enable you to design rewards that are meaningful and desirable, increasing their effectiveness.
3. Design the wellness incentives and rewards plan
Once you have identified the target behavior and understand your employees’ motivations, it’s time to design your employee wellness incentives program. Start by establishing clear and measurable goals that align with your organization’s objectives. The most effective wellness incentives and rewards plans are aligned with the values, culture, and the population’s demographic and geographic data. For example, an organization that communicates a commitment to a sustainable future might raffle prizes that have a low-waste impact on the environment. Another organization may have a geographically dispersed workforce, so the cost of living for employees should be carefully considered for employees based in New York City, NY compared with employees at an organization based in Kalamazoo, MI. On top of that, you’ll also want to make the plan easily accessible and convenient for employees directly within the product.
4. Create and implement a comprehensive internal communication strategy for the wellness incentives plan
Communication is key to ensuring the successful implementation of a wellness incentives and rewards plan. Develop a well-defined internal communication strategy to create awareness, generate excitement and outline the details of the plan. Clearly explain the objectives, eligibility criteria, and the process for earning rewards. Utilize various communication channels within your mobile app, emails, team meetings, and posters to ensure that all employees have a clear understanding of the plan and its benefits.
Effective communication plans:
Raise awareness of the wellness incentives and rewards plan.
Help employees to clearly understand how and when rewards will be provided after they complete a target behavior or a series of behaviors.
Use diverse, customized communication methods to reach all employee audiences and to gain employee program buy-in. (E.g., internal messaging on Teams or Slack, email, product notifications, leadership meeting communications.)
Leverage the power of use cases in communication. For example, one of the organizational leaders might share how they are pursuing their own well-being goals and where they are situated on their current journey.
5. Enlist the support of managers and leaders
Managers and leaders play a critical role in the success of wellness incentives for employees. It’s essential to engage all levels of managers and leadership in both the well-being program (via promotions) and in the incentive and reward structure, as well as engage them early in the process to secure their support. Provide training and resources to equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively communicate and administer the plan. Encourage managers to provide regular feedback and recognition to employees, reinforcing the link between performance and rewards. Buy-in and use of the program by managers may determine whether a well-being program has high or low participation metrics via all levels of the organization.
6. Assess and evaluate the wellness incentive program
An effective wellness incentive program should be periodically assessed and evaluated to ensure its continued relevance and impact. Regularly review the plan’s outcomes, measure the progress made towards the defined goals and seek feedback from employees. Analyze the data to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to optimize the plan’s effectiveness. By continuously monitoring and evaluating your corporate wellness incentives, you can adapt your plan to evolving organizational needs and ensure its long-term success.
The following questions should be addressed:
Does the wellness incentive and reward structure work? If so, when does it work the best? If not, why isn’t it working for the employees we serve?
Does the employee wellness incentive and reward plan result in higher employee participation, further employee progress toward well-being goal milestones, and do employees feel effectively motivated in their well-being journeys?
Is the wellness incentive program undermining or disrupting employees’ intrinsic motivation?
The impact of effective wellness incentives
Developing an effective wellness incentives and rewards plan requires careful consideration and strategic implementation. By following the six steps outlined above, organizations can create a plan that drives desired behaviors, motivates employees and aligns with organizational objectives. Remember, a well-designed wellness incentive program, supported by effective communication, engaged managers, and regular evaluation, can significantly enhance employee performance, job satisfaction and overall organizational success.
How to make incentives work for employee participation
Explore the idea of participation beyond incentives, and learn how you can create a well-being program that achieves higher participation with lower incentive spend. Download our free employee well-being program participation toolkit today to access three exclusive resources.