Don’t bribe employees with wellness incentives; give them more control over their schedules
Aon Hewitt’s survey shows a growing number of employers are beginning to link incentives to a result, as opposed to simply participating in a program. Of companies that offer incentives, 58 percent offer some form of incentive for completing lifestyle modification programs, such as quitting smoking or losing weight. About one-quarter offer incentives for progress or attainment made towards meeting acceptable ranges for biometric measures such as blood pressure, body mass index, blood sugar and cholesterol.
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“Employers know that eight health behaviors, including risks such as lack of physical activity and failure to complete recommended preventive screenings, drive 15 chronic conditions that lead to higher medical costs and increased absence from work. An effective incentive strategy rewarding those who take action to improve their health is fundamental for improving health and reducing cost,” said Stephanie Pronk, clinical health improvement leader for Health & Benefits at Aon Hewitt.
Rather than offer incentives for healthy lifestyle choices, employers seeking measurable gains in the health status of their workforces and decreased medical utilization for preventable conditions should afford employees more control over their schedules in order to free up time for exercise and adequate sleep. One of the biggest reasons employees don’t exercise is lack of time — largely due to the outdated expectation that they must commute to an office five days a week in order to perform their jobs. It effectively chains workers to their cars and their desks most of their waking hours and is a prescription for employee sickness, not wellness. This situation cannot be rectified with any amount of “wellness” incentives. Instead of trying to bribe workers to take better care of themselves, employers should treat them as adults and give them more responsibility and control over their schedules as long as they get their work done. How? By adopting a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE).