Workplace wellness programs come in many shapes and sizes. Some focus on mitigating long-term health risks like smoking or obesity, while others address immediate health problems, or chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Whatever components your program focuses on, motivating behavioral change or encouraging involvement can be difficult, especially when it comes to physical activity or exercise. This is typically where the rewards aspect comes into play. Using rewards in workplace wellness is a powerful tool, if utilized correctly. A new study done at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, finds that the fear of losing rewards (in this case money) works better to motivate employees to get more physically active than having the opportunity to win it.
Losing rewards a motivating factor in wellness.
The study enrolled 281 overweight and obese employees from the same organization and set a goal of walking 7,000 steps a day for 26 weeks. The employees were split into one of four groups. The control group received no financial incentives, a gain incentive group received $1.40 for every day they achieved the goal, a lottery incentive group was entered into a daily lottery where one person in the group who reached their goal won $1.40, and a loss incentive group was given $42 at the start of the month and had $1.40 taken away each day they didn’t meet their goal.
The results were fascinating. The loss incentive group hit their goal an average of 50% more than the other three groups. The thought of losing the reward was more effective than gaining it in small increments.
Using rewards in workplace wellness.
This study lends itself to both employers and benefits administrators. Motivating employees to get more physically active is challenging. So when using rewards in workplace wellness to encourage this type of behavior it’s important to determine just how effective and efficient your rewards system is. Be smart when budgeting for your program, and ensure that employees are receiving their rewards in a way that keeps them engaged throughout the intended life of the program.