Archive for the 'Employee Wellness Programs' Category

According to Incentive magazines “Safety and Wellness IQ,” almost 50% of companies today have some sort of employee wellness program in place.  The biggest difference today is that most CEOs while eager to invest in wellness efforts, are demanding a better return on these investments.  Healthcare costs and healthcare insurance are high, too high, and companies are looking for everything they can do to reduce them.  With an aging workforce these numbers may only get higher.

A study conducted by the Global Wellness Institute, “2016 Future of Wellness at Work”, states the economic enormity of worker health is approaching 10-15% of global economic output.  Some economist’s estimate this can amount to over $2 trillion each year.  According to the research company Gallup, the cost to U.S. employers is $153 billion a year just counting workdays missed.  Whether these global estimations are pertinent to your company or not, unhealthy workers have been a persistently growing problem.

Wellness efforts of the past amounted to websites with articles about exercise and nutrition with links to other resources; and wellness coaches and or company nurses who did health risk assessments (HRA).  This communication effort often left it up to the worker to motivate them to “get healthy”.  Today, doing an HRA is just the starting point, the admission ticket to the program.  From a push using incentives to get employees involved by taking the HRA, today the effort is on participating, doing something to improve your health.  Programs goals have changed from getting employees to join to improving health and fitness and thus reducing costs.

Participative Goals
Another change in programs is not just focusing on people who are unhealthy, but getting to the rest of the employee base to ensure they don’t fall into chronic health conditions in the future.  Today it’s about what your programs stress, what you want your employees to do.  Incentives “2016 Safety & Wellness IQ” survey showed the top activities a program encourages are:


Activity Included in Programs
Physical fitness (walking, running, cycling, swimming, ets. 68.5%
Regular Medical Checkups 64.4%
HRA Survey 56.3%
Smoking cessation 54.8%
Monitoring Health Issues (hypertension, diabetes, etc.) 49.3%
Gym, Fitness Classes 41.1%
Obesity Reduction 39.7%

As all of these goals have specific and easy to obtain measurement are participative and outcomes based, awards can be easily used to achieve thems.  By using a wellness portal with video to  provide advice and material on all of these objectives, you  can appeal to your entire workforce, especially millennials.  Challeng goals and team objectives can also add to the interest because you can have groups supporting each other.

What Awards to Use

Incentives “Safety & Wellness IQ” survey, the top rewards in wellness programs are:


Award Type Included in Program
Retail & Bank Gift Cards 58.9%
Merchandise 41.2%
Cash 27.9%
Insurance Premium Reduction 25.5%
Individual Travel 10.3%
Experiential Awards (Spa treatments, etc.) 7.4%
Group Travel 4.4%

It’s no surprise that gift cards are the number one award group as the vast majority of individual budgets for these types of achievable objectives are less $50 to $100 ea.  And gift cards are by far the best value in that denomination of award especially considering the high margins on merchandise that tends to deflate the value and group or individual travel awards that are quite expensive.

Communications and Technology Are Key

 Communicating the range and complexity of health services can present a challenge. Individual motivation or apathy, sensitive health issues, and the cultural, geographic and demographic differences in your organization can all pose problems that need to be addressed when deciding on the communication strategy. Intranet portals, email campaigns, mobile devices, well thought out promotional items and the use of a host of Technology apps that speak to fitness can all help to make your program a success.

Activity trackers and wearable devises such as FitBit and smart watches are simple ways for employees to measure performance against goals.  The American Council on Exercise reports that “people are 30 to 40 percent more likely to be active just by wearing a fitness tracker.” By using gift cards redeemable for Amazon and other online suppliers you can help offset the cost of activity trackers that can be expensive. Two top apps that unlock this ability for iPhones and Android devices are Argus and Pacer, both free, as are a host of others..

Safety programs for years have used triggers to motivate intended behaviors to avoid accidents.  Wearables are a great trigger.  The device on your wrist, the blinking light and vibration are physical reminders to change your behavior. 

The Future

When you add financial planning, life style education, stress management and life-stage management to the equation, you move into the future from the wellness of the past to the entire well-being of the employee in the future.  With a wellness program designed to change every day habits and reinforce improvement, these holistic well-being programs can help improve business outcomes like productivity and employee engagement, essentially the health of the business.

Companies that have seen measurable success know that these wellness programs take time to show results.  They are long term objectives with very positive long term consequences.

There is abundant evidence to support the return on investment evident in the wellness programs of today.  A quick search of the net will provide many.  How is your wellness effort going?

If you are considering a Wellness program or looking for an award system that will enhance and strengthen the one you already have, you may want to consider taking a look at the Award of Choice,  It allows your employees to choose virtually any gift card they want.

11 29th, 2011

We loved this article on CBS Money Watch by Jeff Haden.  We consult with clients about their employee recognition programs on a daily basis.  Our first recommendation is to remind them that the best approach to employee recognition is almost always the simplest one.  The award industry offers a vast array of recognition systems from which to choose and for whatever reason corporate America rarely starts their investigation of employee recognition using the KISS principle.  They often choose the most complex way of handling an issue that should fundamentally be very easy and straightforward.  And in the process they commit large budget dollars to the administration of these systems, essentially taking those dollars away from getting to where they will do the most good….the employees themselves.   

When you think about it, recognizing an employee should be a simple (and happy) thing to do.  But for some reason everyone wants to complicate it. 

Over the years, the recognition companies have dreamed up elaborate schemes to sell their awards, often priced substantially over retail.  But are these elaborate systems what you really need?  We’ve seen countless numbers of them that have feature after costly feature that are rarely used.  One of these features is a training program to teach your management how to recognize employees.  Frankly it’s a shame that has to be done.  Every manager, good and bad and ugly should have at least the ability to thank someone for doing a good job.  If they don’t, they shouldn’t be a manager in the first place! 

When you are thinking of implementing a recognition program, you would do well to start with the list comprised in this article.  Throw out the complicated stuff and just tell your managers to simply recognize their employees for doing a good job whenever and wherever possible.  Measure the managers to make sure it gets done, and give them a budget to do it. Copy this article and send it to all your management.  It’ll save you a lot of money and time and you’ll wind up with a much better program and more satisfied employees. 

If you think you need to give a tangible award there are a lot of choices to pick from.  Do what you think makes sense and within your culture.  If you want a good one with terrific flexibility and value, check out Award of Choice. 

Weight loss is always a key ingredient of any wellness program as it is one of the health problems that effect so many diseases, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes.  If we could better manage weight loss we would have a head start on managing our overall health.

But as been noted by psychologists, the managing of weight loss is often more of a behavioral issue than a physical one. Granted, there reasons medical reasons for weight gain, but it is also clear that the choices people make in their everyday lives that have a great effect on weight gain.  Often, the knowledge of what and what not to eat and how much is a good way to start people on the road to weight loss. 

Corporations are engaged in many ways to influence their employees to gain interest and action on weight loss.  As mentioned in the article from Corporate Wellness, a good way to start an engagement on weight loss is to sponsor a Nutrition Fair.  Some ideas fun things to do might include:

Nutritional Menus…teams bring prepared foods for competition with a nutritionist as the judge.  The foods are examined based health considerations and taste, after which a cookbook of recipes can be distributed to the employees and winning teams receive a prize.

Control Cholesterol Club”…individuals are invited to voluntarily join and get a screening and are then given a variety of help such as the Gordian Health Solution management program.  They can receive a simple award for joining, and then an incentive to continue the process and achieving the desired goals.

Label Reading Contest”…choose specific foods or food category each week.  Employees search out and find the products in the category with the highest and lowest fat (or sugar, salt, etc) content in the supermarket.  Awards are given for the ones who find the highest and lowest products

Healthy Food Samples”…provide food samples based on label information and compare to less healthy options

Coffee Taste Test”…have decaf and caffeinated coffee available and have a taste test to determine which is which.  Winners enter a drawing for a prize

Healthy Desert Bake Off”…taste test and voting on the offerings provided, with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners

Vegetable Dish Taste Test”…same as Desert Bake Off with winners for the best recipes, or have a guess the veggies used in the recipe

The Award of Choice is a terrific way to award for any of the various games and contests mentioned.  It is an inexpensive and fun way to support the overall wellness effort,  It is a low cost but effective way to reinforce the folks who take part in these efforts.

Today it seems that it’s almost de rigueur for us “experienced” incentive sales types to say to a client that we are completely “Award Neutral” when it comes to recommending the right award solution for their incentive program.  But what does that really mean?  And are we being totally honest with the client?  

In the “old days” 

Back in the early 1970’s I was pounding the pavement of the San Francisco bay area looking for unsuspecting prospects to listen to my well rehearsed presentation on the merits of sales incentives.  When the motto of the company back then was “Motivating Men to Sell Your Product,” do you think it was a different time?  How do you think that motto would fit into our world today?? 

At that early time in my career, I was taught never to approach a client initially about awards.  It was drilled into me never to take our beautiful hard bound deluxe book of merchandise awards to the first meeting, and often not the second or even the third.  My job was to learn as much about the client as I could.  The theory was that if I learned about their company, organization, products, distribution, pricing etc. I would be in the best position to recommend a program that would produce results.  And, my teachers were right.  Approaching the business from this perspective allowed me to concentrate our resources on building the best solution for the client before we discussed what they should use to award the participants for results.  We didn’t have to worry about being “award neutral” because in fact we were.  Of course it helped that at that time all the industry had to sell were two rewards, merchandise, and group travel.  Read the rest of this entry »

Whether it’s old age setting in or just a little nostalgia, I often find myself thinking back to my early days in the industry and contemplating how things have or haven’t changed.  I see articles written on subjects that aren’t really different from what was said many years ago.  It’s almost as if we just dust off old philosophies and restate them in today’s terms and for today’s audience.  One thing’s for certain, the philosophy of why and how to motivate performance hasn’t changed much.  The tenets and rules we used in the 60’s and 70’s are just as valid today as they were then…and in some cases even more so.  Have generational changes brought us back to the future?  Read the rest of this entry »