HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Wellness Incentives

Experiencing an increase in mental health days and a decrease in employee morale in your organization? Noticing employee turnover and not sure how to create a better culture so employees want to stay? Perhaps your employees’ wellbeing through wellness incentives is your answer! Read on to find out more!

What Are Wellness Incentives?

Offering your employees rewards and recognition by promoting the idea of wellness is the best way to describe a wellness incentive. Your organization can be specific to each employee by allowing them to select the goals they would like to work on for their own personal health. Or you can establish organizational challenges to get your entire team more active. You’re lighting a fire in your employees to improve employee health and well-being through wellness incentives.
Employees who are satisfied with wellness programs and benefits are 1.6 times more likely to stay with an organization
Compensation and Benefits Statistics

How Can Wellness Incentives Be Beneficial to Companies and Employees?

When evaluating a new idea to bring up to your higher-ups or to even implement yourself, you have to evaluate the benefits to the employees and the organization before you proceed. Let’s look at the benefits of wellness incentives to your employees and organization.

How Wellness Incentives Benefit Employees

The employee benefits of wellness incentives speak volumes! Here are just a few.
  • Team support. Often it’s easier to go to the gym or give up a nasty habit if you have a team behind you. Knowing they are not going the journey alone might just be the support your employees need to finally achieve their goals.
  • Encouragement. Your wellness program will encourage your employees to be well, both mentally and physically, and you’re giving them the courage and power to not give up. Often that’s all we need to be successful.
  • Empowerment. The hardest part of any goal is sticking to it when things get rough. Through wellness incentives, you’re giving your employees authority to take control of their well-being and offering the tools, support, and encouragement to do so. This is a powerful combination.

How Wellness Incentives Benefit Companies

After understanding the benefits for your employees, you might decide to have wellness incentives then and there. But there are more! The benefit to employers speaks for themselves too.
  • Lower healthcare costs. It’s no surprise that healthcare will continue to be a major expense for both employees and employers. Implementing a wellness incentive that encourages employee health will help their overall health, trickling down to how much they need to go to the doctor or hospital, thus changing the employee and employer bottom line.
  • Boost morale. When you’re giving employees the support, encouragement and empowerment to succeed in their health, you will without a doubt see a boost in employee morale. You’re showing employees you care about the person behind the job and that’s powerful.
  • Increase employee productivity. When you pour into your employees, more often than not, they will pour into your organization. Through offering this incentive, you’re encouraging greater employee productivity and output without even realizing it. The benefits to your organization speak for themselves.

Wellness Incentive Ideas

Whether you choose to reward your employees as a team or individually, take the time to ensure your incentive ideas speak to employees specifically. Let’s go over a few tried and true reward ideas to get you started on your wellness incentive journey.

Company Health Insurance Rebates

Health insurance may continue to be a topic that scares and confuses employees no matter how we explain it and encourage teams to evaluate it for their families. With the rising cost of health care, offering a rebate through company provided health insurance is sure to get your wellness incentive some traction. To offer this incentive, encourage employees to participate in the program or a specific wellness event put on by your organization with an amount towards their health insurance. What a great way to incentivize being healthy!

Gym Reimbursements

If you’re encouraging employees to be active, which most wellness incentives will, think of offering a gym reimbursement for those who participate. You can create a specific gym challenge they can earn by going to a gym of their choice. Or you can think bigger and partner with a gym to encourage employees to attend that gym specifically. This avenue might even offer some employer discounts and could build a great relationship for your organization while helping your employees.

Gift Cards or Monetary Incentives

Money talks, so if you want to start small, stick to a monetary incentive through gift cards or cash for employees. You can offer these incentives by completing a company sponsored exercise program or incentivize employees who are taking control of their individual wellness. It’s important to note that money given to employees as an incentive will contribute to their taxable income and you need to count this as income for end of year reporting on employees’ W-2.
If you want to avoid the monetary incentives, consider an equally beneficial option: paid time off or get-out-of-work free cards. Offer your employees an additional PTO day to use whenever they want as a perk for taking control of their wellbeing. Or offer a get-out-of-work-free card. This is the opportunity to take an extra long lunch or half day to encourage them to focus on their wellness. What a great incentive to offer employees: the opportunity to take care of their physical and mental health with paid time off!

How to Start a Wellness Incentive Program at Your Company

Now that you’ve seen some specific incentives you can utilize, let’s look at the seven steps to implement a much needed wellness incentive program at your company.

Step 1: Collect Assessments

These assessments can range from interest assessments from employees to evaluating your health insurance plan and rates to set you up for greater success. In this first step, collect data from all sides. Evaluate how beneficial your employees view what you’re about to do before you jump in with both feet. Take the time and do your due diligence in this step before you proceed.

Step 2: Establish a Wellness Committee

No matter how hard you try, wellness incentives cannot be completely owned and facilitated by HR, and they shouldn’t be! Establish a wellness committee of trusted employees and empower them to take control with the guidance from your HR department. Give them the opportunity to complete these next steps and present their ideas to HR for approval. It would be best to have a member of your HR team on this committee to keep them focused and keep the company vision in mind.

Step 3: Create Goals

Utilize your wellness committee by allowing them to establish some goals based on the needs they see within the organization. Maybe there’s a department where employees take a lot of smoke breaks, so decreasing the number of smokers could be a great place to start. Maybe you have a sedentary office, so increasing the level of movement would be a great goal. Remember, objectives and goals should be clear so that all employees believe they are achievable.

Step 4: Establish a Budget

No good wellness incentives can be established without a budget. Start by evaluating other organizations of similar size and industry and implement a budget that is similar. Or ask your health insurance broker if your organization has one if they offer incentives through your insurance carrier. Determine what your organization could spend on these incentives and stick to it. Ensure you’re not overspending here. The program itself should speak volumes.

Step 5: Select Your Wellness Program

Perhaps you want to focus on the overall wellness of employees to start off and want to focus on nutrition, stress reduction and exercise programs. So be sure to project these three major areas. You don’t have to focus on reducing mental illness or decreasing stress through meditation. You have the latitude to design what fits your employees. Select a program that supports your organization best, and remember, this can change. As your company continues to focus on wellbeing, the wellness program could change right along with it.

Step 6: Promote the Program

Once you establish where you will start and you have your committee, goals and budget, it’s time to get the word out. It’s recommended to do this the usual way by sending out company announcements, either through internal messaging, email or managers. Make sure employees see the value in the program you created, and do your best to portray the benefits accurately!

Step 7: Evaluate Results

Once you’ve completed the first 6 steps, you’re off to the races focusing on employee wellbeing. You should be proud of that! Now comes data analysis. See how many employees are utilizing your new wellness incentives and generate some surveys to see if employees see a positive change through the implementation. No program can be qualified as “good” without assessment, so ensure you take the time to evaluate the effectiveness of the program as you manage it.
Shalie Reich

Shalie Reich

Shalie has over 4 years of experience working in a variety of HR positions and organizations including: working as an HR department "of one", working with a start-up based in Europe, to working in a fully established robust USA based HR department. Shalie has experience in multiple states and countries with all aspects of the HR spectrum. She has a passion to share her knowledge and experience to benefit the HR profession!
View author page
Frequently asked questions
Other Related Terms
Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
Employee Burnout
Employee Emotional Wellness
Employee Financial Wellbeing
Employee Mental Health
Employee Physical Health
Employee Social Wellness
Employee Spiritual Wellness
Employee Trust
Employee Wellbeing
Imposter Syndrome
Mental Health Awareness Month
Mental Health Days
Occupational Stress
Social Isolation in Remote Work
Stress Management
Wellness Committee
Workplace Hygiene
Workplace Wellness
Eddy's HR Newsletter
Sign up for our email newsletter for helpful HR advice and ideas.
Simple and accurate payroll.
Pay your U.S.-based employees on time, every time, with Eddy.