What Drives Corporate Health Incentive Campaigns? July 22nd, 2010, by Ken Buckley

When implementing a corporate health program, a few carefully crafted incentive-based challenges can really drive employee participation and help to maintain that momentum long enough to see long term rewards.

Usually comprised of either short 3-4 week challenges or stage based initiatives, incentive campaigns reward employees for participating with prizes such as gift vouchers, water bottles or movie tickets.

They are a great way to create employee interest in health programs and bring staff together to support each other along the way.

Getting Corporate Health Initiatives ‘Over the Hump’

Well designed incentive campaigns can be a fantastic tool for getting employees to take that crucial first step towards a healthier lifestyle. Obviously the period a campaign runs for is not long enough to reverse a lifetime of bad habits, but it’s often the nudge someone needs to see the benefits of healthy behaviours.

Commencing a healthier routine can be difficult in the beginning. Bodies that haven’t exercised in years are going to be sore at first, and those overhauling a diet of junk food may experience cravings.

Offering an incentive for completing a challenge can motivate people to push through these early difficulties long enough to feel some of the positive benefits such as more energy or weight loss.

Effective Corporate Health Incentive Campaigns

The most effective incentive campaigns are manageable enough to fit into a busy employee’s daily routine. A mixture of immediate and short term challenges can be combined with longer challenges broken up into stages with rewards for the completion of each component.

For best results, a variety of employee health related issues should be targeted such as nutrition, physical activity, adequate sleep and preventive screening. Initiatives can be as short as the completion of an HRA (Health Risk Appraisal) or may be a longer, stage based fitness challenge.

Incentives should always be delivered on completion, not enrolment, although longer challenges may benefit from stage based rewards such as weekly prizes. Rewards should be attainable and in most cases assured rather than given to just one “winner”.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition, and everybody loves the odd raffle, but do remember that the focus should be on participation rather than the result itself and challenges with only one winner can deter employees who feel they don’t have enough of a chance. Worse still, those that try and don’t win could end up discouraged, and we want positive reinforcement all the way.

Choose incentives that appeal to a range of employees and that preferably support a healthy lifestyle. Rewards can be something as straightforward as a ‘show-bag’ for attending an onsite employee health expo to a relaxing massage voucher for completing a 3 week fitness challenge.

Other suitable reward may be t-shirts, pedometers, water bottles, shopping vouchers for fitness stores, movie tickets, healthy recipe books, sun glasses, and iPod app vouchers. Find out what your employees are interested in and go from there.

Remember that participation in one campaign is a great start, but ongoing programs are more likely to keep employees motivated. When incorporated into a comprehensive health program, incentive campaigns are a terrific way to produce lasting healthy change.

For more information on Corporate Health Incentive Campaigns contact Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90 (International: IDD 61-2-9954-1888 ) and be sure to quote: “post413″ for eligibility of Healthworks latest online offers and Corporate Health initiatives.

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