Employee health incentive: Employee wellness program prod workers to adopt healthy lifestyles

According to this article (Hsph.harvard.edu, 2013), employers are considering various options to encourage their staff towards primary care.  Without going into the details of the options, we will try to understand the thought process behind these innovative approaches. 

On of the obvious ways of encouraging the employees to change their behaviour is the “carrot and stick” policy.  They can start off with concentrating on the most widespread and critical contributing factors, such as smoking and obesity.  For those who are already on the wrong side of these parameters, the penalties should be less strict and the wellness programs should have more reasonable targets. 

Employers broadly use three ways of encouraging healthy behaviours.  Firstly, there are certain companies like IBM that provides incentives to those will to work towards healthy lifestyles.  Then there are certain organizations like State of Alabama that mostly provide incentives, but also impose penalties under certain conditions.  Lastly, there are likes of Scotts Miracle-Gro who are most proactive, and use a balance of incentives and disincentives.  They provide membership of fitness centre, healthy living coaching and free prescriptions of generic drugs.  At the same time, employees who don’t participate in their voluntary health-risk appraisal have to pay higher premium.  Those found to be of mid- to high-risk can take advantage of wellness measures.  And those who don’t follow up on measures, pay even higher premium.  

Researcher concur that there is insufficient evidence to show if incentives or heath risk assessment actually work.  But there is general opinion that penalties will.  In summary, the “carrot and stick” policy would be the best way to go.

Hsph.harvard.edu. (2013). Harvard school of public health » hsph news » employer health incentives: employee wellness programs prod workers to adopt healthy lifestyles. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/winter09healthincentives/ [Accessed: 31 Dec 2013]


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