Increasing participation in a particular activity can be done with incentives, “but you can’t buy commitment to health,” says Alexander Domaszewicz, a principal and senior consultant with Mercer. “Getting people committed to health takes other influencers and motivators.”
That’s the state of wellness programs in the workplace, Domaszewicz says, trying to make a program as valuable as possible and doing so in a meaningful way. “We’re enhancing and refining as we go,” he says.
More employers are using outcomes-based incentives, says Beena Thomas, Optum’s vice president of health and wellness. “It increases personal responsibility,” she says. Financial incentives, like premium reductions for employees who meet biometric thresholds, are widely used, but there are other strong motivators, Domaszewicz says. People are more likely to participate if an activity is easy and accessible, he says. Participation is less likely if an activity is difficult, he says, even if there is money attached to it.