Incentive Strategies to Maxmize Program Participation

By Erin Seaverson, senior director of research and evaluation at StayWell

Employees who are engaged with their workplace well-being program feel more connected to their company and its culture—making them healthier, happier employees who are more likely to be present at work and stick with their company in the long run.

That’s why designing an incentive program to maximize engagement and keep employees motivated is worth your while. And the actual strategy you leverage matters. Research shows that monetary incentives are effective in promoting short-term participation and compliance that are associated with well-being programs, including boosting outcomes associated with physical activity, weight loss, and chronic disease management. In addition, StayWell peer-reviewed research has demonstrated the power extrinsic incentives have in driving one-time behaviors, such as health assessment completion.

[Webinar: Learn more on incentive program design with examples and research from Baird, the State of Wisconsin, and StayWell].

But we know that driving true long-term behavior change takes more than monetary enticements; it requires understanding the “intrinsic motivation” of individual employees. What inspires people? What drives them to excel? For some, it may be alignment with a purpose, competition, recognition, curiosity, pursing individual growth, or learning new things. These are intrinsic motivators that resonate deeply and are crucial to understanding the factors of behavior change.

That’s why—when used strategically in combination with other behavior change techniques as part of a well-being program that promotes cultural change—smart incentives are part of our best practices for success.

Follow these 7 incentive design strategies—developed by StayWell’s Research team—to maximize employee well-being program participation, encourage healthier behaviors for employees, and ultimately help drive towards higher performance and productivity for your organization.