There are dozens of ways, if not hundreds, that incentives can be used to motivate employees to work better, harder, faster or more efficiently (learn more here). But the most beneficial program—for both employees and management—may be a well-designed wellness program.
 
Hawk Incentives recently commissioned a study by Murphy Research to better understand employee wellness incentive programs, as well as ways to improve them so they deliver the best possible ROI. Here are our three key takeaways.

1. Offer Incentives
 
Workplace wellness programs have been around for hundreds of years, and their effectiveness and value have been proven time and time again. So it’s no surprise that, according to a survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, more than 90% of organizations offer some kind of wellness benefit. 
 
But today’s employers know they can kick up employee participation (thus, effectiveness and ROI) by adding rewards and/or incentives to their programs. Incentives have become so common, in fact, employees expect them. A recent Willis Towers Watson survey found that nearly half of employees (46%) say they would participate in their wellness program only if they were offered incentives.
 
Still, a massive 83% of respondents in the Murphy research said they are not offered any kind of wellness rewards or incentives at all. To us, that represents an incredible opportunity for any company.
 
The first big takeaway from our research: If you haven’t already done so, add incentives to your wellness program—now.
 
 
2. Be Positive
 
Wellness costs have ballooned more than 40% in the last five years, making more effective wellness programs even more of a priority. An easy way to fine-tune any wellness program, research shows, comes from using positive incentives versus of negative ones—rewards for participation or achieving goals versus charging higher insurance premiums for non-participants. Positive rewards are more motivating and they’re fully customizable.
 
Best of all, this simple flip in strategy has shown to increase wellness program participation from 26% to 90%.
 
Increased participation, of course, brings a host of other benefits. These programs can lead to healthier employees, greater workforce productivity, improved employee morale and a reduction in wellness costs of up to $225 per employee per year.
 
 
3. Get Physical
 
If you’re going to reward employees, it’s best to reward them with what they want the most. The right rewards are simply more motivating.
 
In our research, 65% of the employees surveyed prefer physical reward cards over their digital counterparts. Yet, only 44% were being offered physical cards.
 
While preference is important, we also learned a lot about how employees feel. According to our research, physical cards made employees feel better about their companies, feel more valued and feel like the company cares about them. Those feelings can make a big difference in the ROI of your wellness program, but also your overall employee productivity.
 
That leads us to our last big takeaway: Offer physical reward cards.

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