One of the most common questions I receive from my clients is, “how do we get more employees to participate?” While I wish my answer could be about appealing to the intrinsic value of improving one’s health, my most common responses are:
- Provide a more enticing incentive.
- Increase promotion.
- Get senior leadership onboard and involved.
The most compelling way to activate employees is through a meaningful incentive. Most companies I work with agree that rewards are vital parts of wellness programs, but it’s how to structure the rewards that clients often struggle with.
Individual incentives; like paid days (or half-days) off, premium rebates, HSA contributions, or cold hard cash consistently garner higher participation – an incredible 40%–60% rate across industries. Even offering something as simple (and free) as a “Jeans Day” to anyone who reaches a goal will gain better results than a raffle.
One of my clients in the financial services industry proves this point – last year, they offered two incentives: a premium rebate for completing certain activities alongside a raffle prize of a $100 gift card for other activities. The premium rebate won – 30% participation compared to 2%.
Another client, a non-profit organization, offered an individual incentive totaling 60% participation – but they switched over to a raffle which dropped employee participation down to 4%.
If you’re not sure where to start, our Wellness Team helps employers with varied budgets figure out what works, OR just ask your employees! Quick surveys provide useful information. However, a word of caution: only inquire about what you know you can follow through on. Don’t ask whether an individual cash prize is desirable if your budget is restrained to a few raffle prizes. Instead list raffle options that are in your budget and ask for opinions – if you are limited in cost, items like Apple Watches, Blue Apron subscriptions and airfare are some popular incentives among our clients’ employees.