Some 71% of major employers are using incentives to promote health and wellness among their workers this year, up from 62% in 2007, and the most popular reward offered today is gift cards, according to a survey of 225 major companies employing 7.6 million workers.
Still, theres huge variation in the programs and the rewards offered, and less than 30% of businesses are calculating the return on their investment in wellness programs, according to the report by the National Association of Manufacturers, the ERISA Industry Committee and IncentOne, a wellness-incentive company. The Web-based survey of members of NAM and the ERISA committee was conducted in April and May; it was the second year for the survey. For instance, incentives for weight-management programs ranged from $5 to $500 per worker, while smoking-cessation incentives were similarly varied. A worker typically got $100 to $300 in rewards per year, with an overall average of $192, according to the survey.
For the first year in the survey, gift cards were the top reward to give workers, with their use jumping from 17% of employers in 2007 to 28% this year. Premium discounts and cash followed closely behind as ways to get workers to improve their health. Employees were far more likely to get rewards for participating in and completing a program, rather than meeting certain goals, such as weight loss, the report concluded.
Trinkets and T-shirts arent enough to motivate employees for the long term, John Engler, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Manufacturers and former governor of Michigan, said in a written statement. Employers are keenly interested in innovative ways to lower costs and enhance productivity. -- by Rebecca Vesely