Employee Wellbeing: It is Time to Incentivize

At its core, wellness programming is an attempt for organizations to improve their workplace environment by offering resources – be it physical activity opportunity, mental health programming or something else – to enhance their employee’s quality of life.  

Unfortunately, when it comes to wellbeing programming, it’s often the case that employees have felt that their employer might be forcing them to do things that are “outside the scope of their employment opportunities.”

This is where incentives come in.

Chances are, the topic of incentives isn’t new to you, but if they’re not a part of your wellbeing programming, it may be time to start considering them. Offering incentives in a strategic manner softens the messages that wellbeing programming can give off – things like, “lose weight,” “quit smoking,” or “go the doctor, or else!”

We caught up with Rich Siegenthaler, DHS Group’s VP of Employer Solutions (and incentives expert!) to get all the details on why and how to integrate them into your employee wellbeing programming.

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DHS Group: At what point in planning your employee wellbeing program should you think about adding an incentives component? 

Rich: From the beginning. Employees often ask themselves, “What is in it for me and what do I need to do to earn that?” Being “well” is something that everybody aspires to be, however, the national statistics show that while we don’t want to be “unwell,” we simply do not take care of ourselves for many reasons.  Incentives help employees who are on the fence about participating – encouraging them to take the leap in many cases.

DHS Group: Does an incentives program have to equal money?

Rich: It’s probably not hard to believe, but money is the number one behavior change or engagement strategy. Simply put, money talks and is the most direct way to reward employees for participation. 

However, there are many others ways to incentivize:

  • Gift cards

  • Paid-time off

  • T-shirts, water bottles, stress balls, etc.

  • Employee Recognition in bulletins or company announcement or lunch with CEO

DHS Group: What should a company keep in mind before they start their incentive program?

Rich: Try these “Top Four’ tips:

  1. Ask your employees what it would require for them to participate in your wellbeing strategy. You may be surprised!

  2. What is our goal for our wellness program in the first place?

  3. Do we have a budget for incentives? If so, how much?

  4. Is the incentive we’re looking at offering something that is powerful enough for people to consider engaging in the wellbeing program?

At the end of the day, employers want employees engaged. As you begin to work on your incentives program – whatever stage that may be – remember to communicate with your employees and allow them to be a part of the strategy rather than just rolling it out and stating, “Here it is!”

Wellness may be a way of life for many, but in many cases today it is not practiced because “life” gobbles up any free time or extra brain power. Consider incentives that extra step towards helping employees not forget the most important person in their lives – themselves.


 To learn more about including incentives as part of your employee wellbeing programming – including how to put Rich’s recommendations into action - fill out this quick form and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.