Free Webinar: Making Dollars & Sense Out of Wellness Incentives

wellness incentives

On Thursday, August 4th, four industry experts will engage in a candid discussion about the wellness incentive market. With four out of five employers offering wellness programs with the expectation of reducing health plan costs, there is a lot of pressure on the industry. However, if wellness incentives are not well executed, the ROI benefits for employers will not be recognized. So who can you turn to for guidance through an evolving industry?

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Meet the panelists


wellness incentivesJames Kelly: CEO and Founder of Brave Endurance, a wellness consulting practice that takes a people-first approach to wellness programs. James believes that a “one size fits all” approach to wellness won’t work. Instead, he uses consumer behavior principles to appeal to employees, engage them, and get them on the path to a healthier life.

wellness incentivesDr. Alfred Lewis: Founder and President of the Disease Management Purchasing Consortium International, Inc. (DMPC). DMPC is the leading outcomes measurement evaluator in the field of disease management and wellness for health plans, self-insured employers, states, and brokers seeking valid results measurement. Dr. Lewis has also authored and co-authored many critically acclaimed books, including Why Nobody Believes the Numbers, which discusses the real math involved in the healthcare industry.

wellness incentivesRenae Coombs: Human Resource Manager at SAIF Corporation, an Oregon workers’ compensation company that has about 1,000 employees. Coombs has helped develop a wellness program that includes activity tracking devices and platform, annual biometric screening and health assessment, along with an onsite health clinic. Her programming has also included a successful incentive and engagement program that has the metrics and data to support it.

wellness incentivesDeborah Merkin: Co-CEO of GiftCard Partners, Inc. Deborah brings more than 25 years of experience in B2B channel development, partner programs, and marketing management. One of her programming focuses has been wellness programs and wellness incentives since the inception of the business. Deborah is dedicated to helping channel partners and end users make their wellness programs work.


Join our panel of experts to learn how to make sense of and drive ROI from your wellness programming and wellness incentives.

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Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

The Future of Corporate Wellness Programs

future of corporate wellness

Corporate wellness programs have been around for a while, in fact, approximately 76% of companies have implemented a corporate wellness program or resource. But like most new ideas, there comes a point where things evolve, and that time for corporate wellness programs is now. Take a look at how corporate wellness has already changed what the future holds for wellness and how it could effect to your program.

The Past

The corporate wellness model of the past was a standard program for all employees that included fitness, education, and nutrition. It also often included an incentive or reward if you hit your goals for the program.

The Future of Corporate Wellness

For companies, it is important to keep healthcare costs low. Implementing an effective wellness program helps offset these costs significantly. Keeping those costs low, however, is quickly becoming more of a challenge. “By 2020, the number of Americans in the 55 to 64 age group will have grown by 73 percent since 2000.” On the surface, this considerable growth may not seem like a problem for company wellness costs, but older workers are more likely to miss work for wellness-related issues and are diagnosed at a higher rate for chronic diseases. In fact, “by 2030, 40.5 percent of the U.S. population is expected to have some form of cardiovascular disease.” These issues make engagement in wellness programs even more important for corporations than it used to be.

The Solution

There are two primary solutions that both lead to one common denominator for increased engagement in the future of wellness programs: personalization.

Solution #1: health exchanges. Health exchanges enable employees to pick from a “shopping mall” of health insurance options rather than being given one corporate choice. Health exchanges allow personalization and customization on the insurance end of corporate wellness. People are moving toward lower coverage, cheaper insurance plans with the idea of focusing more on disease prevention. The exchanges can offer this group a variety of proactive health program choices. Wellness programs played a big part in that decision:

“an overwhelming majority (72 percent) think their wellness initiatives are very or somewhat effective in reducing health care costs and 78 percent thought they improved the overall physical health of their employees.”

Solution #2: customized rewards. The other solution works in conjunction with an employees’ ability to customize their wellness programs and insurance plans. It is the capacity to tailor their rewards and incentives. An excellent way to do this is through gift cards. They can be personalized and hold more trophy value than cash alone; recipients will remember why they earned it and in-turn the reward ends up being more valuable. Customizing employee recognition in wellness programs is a great way to keep people engaged, they can earn the rewards they want while their employer keeps their costs low.

In short, the world is an ever-changing place, and corporate wellness is no exception to that. The successful future of a corporate wellness program lies in addressing the needs of wellness program participants, your employees.

Safety and wellness go hand in hand. Workplace safety programs can reduce the costs of occupational illness and injury by as much as 40%.  Learn more about using rewards as a tool to increase engagement in safety programs: Download our free white paper Creating a Successful Safety Incentive Program.

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3 Facts About Employee Wellness Programs

facts about employee wellness programs

Employee wellness programs are becoming an increasingly integral part of employee benefits plans and incentive programs. There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding if an employee wellness program is going to work for your staff, but here are three simple facts about employee wellness programs to help you begin your evaluation.

Do you manage or participate in a Health & Wellness Program? If so, we are looking for your feedback.

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  1. Wellness programs are easy. Employee wellness programs don’t need to mean extra stress and tasks. They are surprisingly easy to manage and don’t necessarily always require a dedicated employee, which adds cost and headcount. These programs can be easily managed by a volunteer employee committee or grouped in with your benefits specialist in your HR department. Just because the word “program” is at the end of the name doesn’t mean it needs to be hard or stressful. If your employee wellness program is well planned, it can practically run itself.
  2. Wellness programs are popular. Employee wellness programs continue to rise in popularity. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2015 Employee Benefits Report, 80% of employers offer preventative wellness services to their staff. That figure increases to 92% for employers with over 200 employees. The larger the workforce, the larger the health risk and the larger the impetus for a program that promotes healthy living where employees spend the most waking hours during the week, the workplace.
  3. Wellness programs pay off. The question employers always want to ask when deciding if they are going to engage in any kind of employee reward program, whether it is an employee wellness program or a performance-based incentive program, is what will the ROI be? According to Rand Health’s “Review of the U.S. Workplace Wellness Market,” employee wellness programs pay off. The average return on investment for an employee wellness program across industries and company sizes is 3:1. This means your organization could see an even higher ROI, with a well-managed, well-administered program.

For more information and five more facts about employee wellness programs, check out this article from Forbes.

Incentives in Corporate Wellness Survey

Do you manage or participate in a corporate wellness program? We’d like to get your feedback on wellness programs.  Take our brief 10-minute survey.

incentives in corporate wellness

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

CVS Pharmacy® April Wellness Newsletter

april wellness newsletter

Top stories from the CVS Pharmacy® April Wellness Newsletter!

Wellness has become a fundamental part of a company’s benefits program. 70% of employers now offer employees a general wellness program. This edition of the CVS Pharmacy® April Wellness Newsletter focuses on using rewards and incentives to encourage healthy behavior changes, resources on how to maintain engagement and secure long-term program success, CVS news and more.  Read below for more on what this edition has to offer.

CVS in the News

April wellness newsletter

New Program for Alzheimer’s Diagnosis – The CVS Health Foundation recently announced a $550,000 commitment to the Alzheimer’s Association to support expanded education and diagnosis for individuals and caretakers.

April Wellness Newsletter

CVS to Offer Curbside Pickup – CVS introduces, CVS Express, their new curbside pickup option. Shoppers will have access to about three-quarters of CVS’s inventory. CVS Express will be accessible from the CVS mobile app and the Curbside mobile app.

More on this section…

Health & Wellness News

employee wellness programs

Start a Wellness Program – Want to start a wellness program at your organization but you aren’t quite sure where to start or if your employees will be on board? In this edition, you will find helpful ways to jumpstart your wellness program.

April wellness newsletter

Learning from the Past: The Evolution of Corporate Wellness – How does history influence the corporate wellness programs we implement today? Learn more about the early trendsetters for wellness programs.

More on this section…

CVS Health Brand

CVS Pharmacy Gift Card Product Suite

With more than 7,800 locations, CVS Pharmacy is the most convenient place to get the prescription medications, healthcare, and beauty products you need. CVS Pharmacy has a range of gift cards available that are ideal for using as rewards and incentives in your wellness programs. Discounts are also available based on volume!

Contact us today to learn more.

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The CVS Pharmacy® April Wellness Newsletter is brought to you by GiftCard Partners, Inc. and is designed with your needs in mind.

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

How to Jumpstart Your Wellness Program

jumpstart your wellness program

Do you want to start a wellness program at your organization but don’t know where to start? Maybe you’ve heard about all of the potential benefits, but don’t know if your employees will adopt the program. If so, here are a few simple tips to jumpstart your wellness program. 

Participation Incentives & Rewards

Participation incentives used to be pretty simple. Organizations would give employees $50 or $100 for joining a company wellness program. Now, with new allowances by the Affordable Care Act, incentives administered through premium discounts make the participation incentive landscape more complex. According to Jennifer Patel, Wellness Engagement Director for Hallmark Business Connections, premium reductions work for the first year, but as employees come to expect that cost cut in the subsequent years, it may not be as effective. Her solution? Combine premium reductions and a personal incentive, such as a gift card, that employees can use to jumpstart their personal wellness.

Find the right reward

Commit to the Investment

Wellness programs are a significant investment; they cost both time and money to implement correctly. But that didn’t stop many organizations from increasing investments in their programs in 2015. According to the Incentive 2015 Safety & Wellness IQ Survey, the number of companies making $100,000-1MM investments was up 10% from 2014 to 2015. This signals a trend that increasing investment is increasing effectiveness for wellness programs.

Make It Fun, Make It Active

Looking for the easiest, simplest way to jumpstart your wellness program? Make it fun for employees and keep them active. How to do this? Start a lunchtime walking group, subsidize a recreational sports team for employees, give employees exercises they can do at their desk, or start a pedometer challenge. All of these ideas are low cost and highly effective in getting employees involved and moving.

Looking for more ideas for your wellness program? Check out Incentive Magazine’s 2016 Guide to Wellness.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Invest in Effective Employee Wellness

effective employee wellness

As we dive into 2016 more employers are focused on expanding their wellness programs. Towers Watson Staying@Work survey indicates that 75% of organizations plan to increase or significantly increase employee wellness initiatives over the next three years. But as those programs expand and change, now may be the time to re-evaluate your efforts before making any more investments.

Effective employee wellness: How do programs measure up?

Towers Watson’s Global Benefit Attitudes Survey found that out of 30,000 employee respondents only 1/3 indicated their employee wellness program drives them to a healthier lifestyle. 32% indicated these programs don’t meet their personal wellness needs. This means that although they may be participating, they aren’t fundamentally affected by the program. Participation, as noted below, does not always mean adoption.

• 50% of employees participated in group-related programs while individual participation was lower
• 48% underwent biometric screenings
• 22% participated in a worksite exercise or diet activity

Listen and learn

So how can you solve the adoption issue? In order to see effective employee wellness, it’s important to include your employees in the program construction process. Find out the types of health and wellness activities your employees want to engage in and provide options to appeal to all fitness levels and major health issues. Gather the data and use that to craft your wellness program; stepping away from prescriptive formulas and prebuilt playbooks. Each staff member is different, which usually means that each employee wellness program will need to be different. Listen to your staff to ensure your program success.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Incentives in Wellness Programs Continue to Grow


The use of incentives in wellness programs continues to increase, rising to 87% this year, up from 77% two years ago. According to Optum’s Fifth Annual Wellness in the Workplace Study, 90% of large employers now offer incentives. It comes as no surprise with employers seeing an increased urgency for results in employee engagement.

The Workplace Study is based on 545 employers that offer wellness programs of one kind or another. 60% of employers participating in the survey have at least 3,000 employees, 20% having between 100 and 2,999, and 20% have fewer than 100.

Here are some of the major highlights of the study:

  • 64% of large employers offer incentives to employee family members
  • 79% of wellness programs feature biometric screening, health challengers, health assessments, and smoking cessation
  • Between 50% and 66% of employers provide incentives for wellness coaching, health websites, disease management, and healthy pregnancy programs
  • 38% of employers contribute to HSAs, HRAs or HIAs
  • 34% of employers reduce health care premiums
  • 29% of employers offer gift cards
  • 16% of employers offer cash incentives
  • 57% of employers offer incentives for employees to complete a wellness program

Employee physical health is the most dominant focus of wellness programs, but an interesting 64% targeted on mental health, 35% on financial health, and 31% on social health.

Check out all the details of the Wellness in the Workplace Study by Optum Resource Center for Health & Wellness here.

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Boosting Wellness Program Participation

Regular medical checkups and tests can help spot issues before they become expensive to treat complications. One Florida school district has launched a wellness rewards points program that has been showing phenomenal results. To obtain a $50 reduction in premium, employees just have to earn 300 points a year, and points are quite easy to obtain.

Points are earned through a variety of health related activities like,

  • 100 points for an online health risk assessment
  • 100 points for blood testing to measure cholesterol and glucose
  • 100 points for a physical, colonoscopy, mammogram, or completing an online coaching program for weight loss, nutrition or stress management

85% of employees in the district now get annual physicals, more than a 50% increase since the launch of the program. More than 16,000 employees now complete an online health assessment, where 6 years ago the number of employees participating was just 25!

The wellness program has had a positive effect on reducing overall healthcare costs for the district. In just two years, hospital admission rates dropped from almost 70 per 1000 to 61 per 1000 (covered employees) and overall monthly medical spending dropped 7% during this same time period. Diabetes is also a primary concern for the district. About 33% of participants have diabetes with additional complications and participants in the diabetes category saw a 39% decrease in medical spending and have saved the school district approximately $6.5 million dollars since the inception of the program in 2011. More consistent care and follow-up has been directly attributed to the rewards program.

While a financial incentive such as a premium reduction will not work for all companies due to legal ramifications, these types of points based wellness programs have been shown to be just as successful with a gift card as an incentive. Gift cards allow employees to choose the rewards that are best suited to their interests and will be most motivating to them. They also take the guesswork out of selecting the proper incentive to reward employees with and many gift cards offer co-branding with a company logo.

GiftCard Partners carries many “healthy” gift card brands that help to enhance your rewards program, including CVS/pharmacy, Whole Foods Market, and GNC!

Click here to learn more!

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Boston Market Takes On a Health-Conscious Menu

For the last several years, Boston Market has worked to create a menu that boasts more nutritious selections while still offering the same great taste. In a campaign committed to reducing sodium levels by 20% in their menu items, they removed salt shakers from their tables in 2012. While the sodium levels dropped in menu staples, 26% in mashed potatoes, 20% in stuffing, gravy by 50% and cornbread by 30%, sales have not.* The holiday sales this year increased 17%.

In January 2014, Boston Market continued their health movement with the announcement of “Meals Under 550 Calories,” a menu offering more than 100 calorie-conscious options just in time for new years weight loss resolutions.

“At Boston Market, we are committed to ensuring our guests enjoy delicious, home style cooking that can be part of a healthier diet,” said George Michel, CEO of Boston Market (a.k.a. “The Big Chicken”). “Modifying our recipes to create healthier options, without sacrificing taste, is another way we deliver on our mission to provide guests wholesome foods they can feel good about eating and sharing with their families.”**

Interested in gift cards? Boston Market gift cards are redeemable at more than 458 locations nationwide and are available in volume discounts.

*Boston Market Offers Health Conscious Consumers More Than 100 Meals Under 550 Calories,  Press Release 01/08/14

**Boston Market Reduces Sodium in Key Menu Items – And No One Notices, Press Release 02/17/14

Lauren is the Marketing Specialist here at GiftCard Partners. She enjoys all things marketing and design related. Learning about the newest trends and technologies in the b2b gift card world and seeing how we can use them to develop the best experience for our audience and reader base is our goal.

Welcome 2014! Welcome Healthy Employees?

We all wish for a Happy and Healthy New Year.  But, is your workplace doing all it can to promote and improve employee health and wellness?

Register to view our on-demand webcast and learn what you need to know about complying with the latest Healthcare Reform laws and regulations for 2014, when implementing incentives to your corporate health and wellness program.

Gift Card Partners, in conjunction with CVS/pharmacy and the Employer Healthcare Congress present: Wellness in the Corporate Environment and Complying with PPACA; How to Build a Successful Gift Card Incentive Program

How do you plan to improve your workplace health and wellness in 2014?

Established in 2004, GiftCard Partners is an award-winning leader and outsourced solution provider for merchant B2B gift card programs through key distribution channels.