More Employers Use Incentives for Wellness Programs

March 25, 2013 ( – Companies are increasingly offering incentives for employees to participate in wellness programs, a survey by Aon Hewitt finds.

According to the survey, 83% of employers now offer their employees incentives for participating in programs that help employees become more aware of their health status. These actions may include taking a health risk questionnaire or participating in biometric screenings. 

This 83% of employers offer: 

  • Incentives in the form of a reward (79%);  
  • Incentives in the form of a consequence (5%); or 
  • A mix of both rewards and consequences (16%). 

“Questionnaires and biometric screenings are the key tools in providing that important information and serve as the foundation that links behaviors to actions,” said Jim Winkler, chief innovation officer for health and benefits at Aon Hewitt. “Motivating people to participate through the use of incentives is a best practice in the industry and these strategies will continue to be a critical part of employers’ health care strategies in the future.” 

The survey showed that nearly two-thirds (64%) of employers offer monetary incentives of between $50 and $500, and that nearly one in five (18%) offer monetary incentives of more than $500. 

Employers reported positive results to offering such health-related incentives. More than half saw improved health behaviors and/or an increase in employee engagement. Nearly half of employers said such incentives were a positive impact on employee morale, satisfaction and/or attitudes. Forty-four percent saw changes in health risks. 

In the future, companies anticipate:  

  • Tying incentives to programs that focus on health 365 days a year (34%);  
  • Using game theories and concepts to improve existing programs (22%);  
  • Rewarding employees who meet predetermined criteria (20%); and  
  • Imposing consequences on employees who do not take appropriate actions for improving their health (58%). 


The survey covered nearly 800 large and mid-size U.S. employers and represented more than seven million employees.