Employers to Increase or Maintain Wellness Program Incentives

July 26, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A survey for Virgin HealthMiles, a provider of employee health programs, finds the overwhelming majority of respondents will increase or maintain their investments in wellness program incentives compared to last year. 

One half of the organizations surveyed offer incentives to encourage participation in employee health and wellness programs. And many offer incentives of substantial annual value; 50% offer $300 or more per year, while 15% offer $1,000 or more per year.  

According to the survey report, organizations are recognizing that incentives work and plan to increase their investments in them. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they are likely to spend more on incentives than they did last year; 69% will spend the same as last year, and only 5% plan to spend less.  

Cash topped the list as the most effective and appealing incentive to employees. Other types ranked high as well: discounts on health care premiums ranked second and additional paid time off ranked third. Gift cards and employer savings accounts fell in the middle of the pack, while branded company merchandise was chosen as the least effective and attractive to employees.  

Forty-three percent of respondents cited their biggest challenge as problems managing multiple programs and incentives; one-third (32%) of respondents believe that their biggest challenge is the inability to measure the impact and overall effectiveness of the incentive program; and a quarter said incentives aren’t compelling enough.  

In addition to the support of leadership, respondents firmly believe that the support of peers is critical to wellness incentive program success; one-quarter said that social interaction and peer support is “extremely” important.  

The survey report is at http://us.virginhealthmiles.com/info/Documents/Survey_Report_Virgin_HealthMiles_Exploring_Incentives_2011.pdf.