Sep 28, 2020

3 Ways to Increase Employee Wellness Participation

If it were easy to adopt new healthy habits, there wouldn’t be so many fads, gimmicks and “secrets” that claim to offer fast-and-easy results with minimal effort. In fact, successful lifestyle changes require commitment, willpower, reasonable milestones and a lot of encouragement along the way.

Your corporate wellness program requires the exact same dedication from your employees—but you can play an important role by offering the encouragement they need to make long-term health improvements. Here are four best practices that will help you increase employee wellness participation.

1. Offer your employees wellness rewards

Whether you choose to offer points that can be exchanged for rewards, co-branded Mastercard or Visa® Reward Cards, or corporate merchant gift cards, incentives are essential. Many of our clients have seen an increase in wellness program participation after they started offering rewards. After all, rewards are tangible reminders of milestones met and gestures of encouragement to stay on track to achieve wellness goals.

In 2017, Optum’s eighth annual Wellness in the Workplace survey of companies with more than 3,000 employees determined that the average value of incentives offered by large employers is $532 a year.1 That’s a significant investment, but many wellness experts have concluded that lower employee absenteeism, greater productivity and other positive outcomes justify the expense.

2. Celebrate small wins with more frequent rewards

When it comes to employee wellness habits, smaller, more frequent rewards are more effective than one large you-met-your-big-goal reward. According to a recent Cornell research study about workplace motivation, the most important aspect of the reward is the immediacy. To help maximize the effect of the reward, it should be delivered when the task is completed, rather than delay it to the end of the week or month, for example.2

The New England Journal of Medicine put it this way: “A program that promotes exercise with a year-end reward for gym attendance is far less likely to succeed than one providing incentives—and symbolic encouragement—at every visit. Similar concepts apply to most health-related behaviors, such as smoking or medication adherence, for which incentives might bring immediate and frequent attention to otherwise delayed benefits.”3

So how, exactly, do you deliver rewards in near-real time to employees who have earned them? The answer is to issue digital rewards directly from an online reward ordering site. Your options include:

  • Mastercard or Visa Virtual Accounts—in other words, digital version of the plastic reward cards—arrive via an email you can customize and personalize
  • Corporate merchant gift cards ordered in bulk and delivered individually, which give you the option to support your wellness program goals by choosing popular athletic gear, heathy food, gym/spa brands and more
  • Our unique MAX Mastercard Prepaid Cards, which can be used at over 150 popular U.S. merchants

3. Offer your employees a choice

In any group of employees, you’ll find a wide variety of personality types, age groups, cultural backgrounds and more. That’s why a successful employee rewards strategy should include options that appeal to different types of people. If you don’t know where to start, consider starting with our exclusive MAX Mastercard Prepaid Card. It can be used at over 150 popular restaurants, retailers and other merchants, giving your employees plenty of choices.