Over 80 Percent Of Employers Offered Incentives To Participate In Health And Wellness Programs

The majority (83 percent) of employers offered incentives for participating in programs that help employees become more aware of their health status, according to recent research from human resource consultant Aon Hewitt. The survey noted that these actions might include taking a health risk questionnaire (HRA) or participating in biometric screenings. Aon Hewitt’s survey also showed 64 percent of employers offer monetary incentives of between $50 and $500, and 18 percent offer monetary incentives of more than $500.

Some employers (16 percent) use a mix of both rewards and consequences for either participating or not participating in the company’s wellness program. However, most (79 percent) offer incentives only in the form of a reward. Just 5 percent offer incentives solely in the form of a consequence. Employers reported seeing some positive impact from offering reward-based incentives, with more than half indicating they saw improved health behaviors and/or an increase in employee engagement. In addition, almost half said they believe there was a positive impact on employee morale, satisfaction and/or attitudes, and 44 percent saw changes in health risks.

“Employers recognize the first step in getting people on a path to good health is providing employees and their families with the opportunity to become informed and educated about their health risks and the modifiable behaviors that cause those risks,” said Jim Winkler, chief innovation officer for Health and Benefits at Aon Hewitt. “HRQs and biometric screenings are the key tools in providing that important information and serve as the foundation that links behaviors to action. Motivating people to participate through the use of incentives is a best practice in the industry and these strategies will continue to be a critical part of employers’ health care strategies in the future.”

Of the companies that offer incentives:

• 56 percent require employees to actively participate in health programs, comply with medications, or participate in activities like health coaching; and

• 24 percent offer incentives for progress toward or attainment of acceptable ranges for biometric measures such as blood pressure, body mass index, blood sugar, and cholesterol. More than two-thirds say they are considering this approach in the next three to five years.

In addition, Aon Hewitt’s survey also indicated a potential shift in how many employers are thinking about designing their incentive programs in the future. In the next few years:

• 58 percent plan to impose consequences on participants who do not take appropriate actions for improving their health;

• 34 percent are interested in tying incentives to program designs that require a focus on health 365 days a year. For example, they may offer incentives for completing a progressive physical activity program that increases minutes each quarter, ultimately achieving the recommended cardiovascular physical activity of 150 minutes per week;

• 22 percent are interested in using game theories and concepts to improve existing programs or ideas; and

• 20 percent are interested in rewarding employees at specific work locations who meet predetermined criteria.

The survey contains responses from nearly 800 large and mid-size U.S. employers. For more information, visit http://www.aonhewitt.com.

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