One of the few strategies that’s actually helped contain healthcare costs in recent years:
Getting employees to take greater control of their own health.
But there’s no question that’s easier said than done.
The choice employers are faced with when it comes to getting workers to pull their own weight in wellness plans: Is it better to provide incentives to employees who make smart choices about their health or punish those who make not-so-smart decisions?
There’s no easy answer. But a recent Hewitt Associates study revealed which side of the fence your peers landed on when it comes to getting workers to participate in health-related activities like smoking cessation classes and risk assessments.
Use of carrots on the rise
One thing is for sure: Employers are using far more financial incentives this year than last.
Some findings from the study:
- 63% of employers now offer cash incentives to those who complete a health risk assessment (nearly twice the 35% who did in 2009), and
- 37% are offering to pay employees to participate in wellness and health-improvement projects.
Smokers getting hit with sticks
For some companies, using the stick rather than the carrot is what they hope will get employees on the wellness bandwagon.
The three most common reasons for which employers penalize their workers:
- smoking (64%)
- not participating in disease management and lifestyle behavior programs (50%), and
- failing to participate in biometric screenings (45%).
Note: The Department of Labor says you can’t penalize non-participants per se, but you can charge participants (say those willing to take a health risk assessment, for example) lower insurance premiums.
What incentives or penalties have worked to boost participation in your wellness programs? Share your success stories in the Comments Box below.