On average, participation in corporate wellness programs is 50%, and even then doesn’t produce results. Incentives increase engagement in the first year, but then it drops off, according to Jen Hernaez, director of new business development at Preventure, a well-being program provider.
In a webinar hosted by Preventure, Hernaez said the reason most wellness programs do not produce intended results is they do not focus on individuals to drive change. They focus on incentives and compliance, not the true benefits of a healthy lifestyle for the employee and his or her family.
“Our idea is a program not just about checking boxes and jumping through hoops, but to create real change,” she told webinar attendees. “We believe if people have the right information, they will make the right decision, but people know the dangers of smoking and still choose to smoke.”
Laura Walmsley, chief client officer at Preventure, for example, noted one study in which retirement plan participants did not increase deferral rates even when educated about the benefits of receiving the full match.
Walmsley said there is a robust gap between what we intend to do and what we actually do; individuals’ decisions are relative. Plan sponsors can use relativity in their wellness programs to promote behavior change by using anchors, habits employees already have. For example, a participant can be told that every morning when they have their cup of coffee, they will do two pushups or put on their walking shoes and take a short walk. Or, they can be told that after watching their favorite TV program, they will drink water or eat some baby carrots. NEXT: Behavior change science