Studies conducted by Greenwald & Associates find cash incentives are a primary driver of wellness program participation, but these incentives have a diminished impact on workers who have participated in a wellness program before and it isn’t the only motivator.
The 2012 Wellness Design Study, which included a conjoint analysis, found three key drivers to program participation – who sponsors the program, the incentive type, and the incentive amount. Cash incentives are critical to encouraging workers who have never participated before, and all are comfortable with a wellness program sponsored by their employer.
But what about current participants? Workers who are currently participating in a wellness program or have more experience with them in general are less moved by incentives. The Consumer Engagement in Healthcare Study (CEHS), conducted annually with partner EBRI, finds the biggest motivator among current participants is the desire to improve their health. In contrast, many non-participants perceive that they don’t need a wellness program – which may or may not be true. In keeping with the Wellness Design Study, three-quarters of workers who think they don’t need a wellness program would be enticed to participate if a cash incentive was offered.
The good news for employers is that it appears workers want workplace wellness. While it’s critical, of course, that private health information remains confidential, workers’ privacy concerns are not a major obstacle and convenience may be even more important.
Other important factors in building an appealing wellness program include being convenient (also related to who sponsors), being targeted, and being easy to understand. Cash incentives may not always be feasible and there are other motivators.
For more on wellness program participation nationwide and the impact of incentives, click here. For more about how Greenwald & Associates used choice modeling to build an optimal wellness program, click here.