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How Lifestyle Incentive Programs are Improving Workplace Wellness

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The term “lifestyle incentive program” was not in the public consciousness very much until recently. In the past few years, more companies are investigating and implementing these programs, and in many instances, they’re seeing positive results from them.

A lifestyle incentive program capitalizes on the idea that employees will take better care of themselves if their employer incentivizes them to do so. This, in turn, leads to lower healthcare costs for which the employer has to pay. It makes sense for companies to offer a combination of an employee healthcare plan and a lifestyle incentive program.

Let’s look at how such plans are improving workplace wellness.

These Plans Improve Morale

Companies that try to get their employees to engage in fun activities don’t have as much turnover. A lifestyle incentive program shows that a business cares enough to try and retain their workers. Part of these plans might include:

  • Trying to encourage employees to sign up for a Fun Run or half marathon
  • Having a competition for which employee can take the most steps during a day or week
  • Catering a special lunch at work with only healthy foods once a week

Having these kinds of activities for your employees gets them talking and energized about their health. They understand that you’re attempting to help them stay fit, and they’re sure to appreciate your investment in them.

Incentivizing Healthy Behaviors Works

Incentivizing healthy behavior often has a positive effect over time. People want to win prizes and participate in games and events. That is why employers should set up competitions where the employees can win:

  • Gift cards
  • Spa days
  • Event tickets

If there is a tangible goal to staying healthy, other than a lengthier and better life, it gives employees something on which to focus. Their willingness to eat healthily and exercise will increase if they know that not just a prize, but also bragging rights are on the line.

Rewards Programs Show Good Results

Some businesses have come up with proprietary software applications that employees can use to keep track of their healthy behavior.

For instance, they might use the app to score points when they meet with their health coach or practice a stress-reducing exercise. They may get more points by bringing in a healthy lunch from home several times per week.

Other possibilities might include taking a stress quiz on the app or going to a preventative doctor or dentist visit. These are all activities that are good to do, but when they become a game, there is extra motivation for engaging in them.

People respond well to games, so it makes sense that these types of apps have caught on with many different companies.

Some Companies Offer Activities at Work

Ideally, employees will engage in healthy behaviors when they’re away from the office. That’s why some companies will offer a gym membership or even a monthly massage credit with a new contract.

However, there’s no guarantee that an employee will act a certain way away from work. Because of this, some companies now have gym facilities on the premises. Some of them have spas or yoga studios right on the grounds.

This type of thing is quite common with Silicon Valley and forward-thinking tech companies. They might offer yoga classes during the day, or popular exercise programs like Spin or SoulCycle classes.

Even the bosses might participate. It is all presented as fun activities that the employees can enjoy together, and their improved health is the benefit.

Outcome-Based Programs are Possible

Some companies have also experimented with so-called “outcome-based” programs. The way it works is that if an employee demonstrates good health results in their life like if they lower their bad cholesterol or blood pressure, their monthly health insurance payments will go down.

Some people respond well to this prompting. It makes sense because you’re being held solely responsible for your actions as it concerns your health. No one wants more money deducted from their paycheck for healthcare, so that might be what it takes to get them to exercise more and eat a healthy diet.

These types of plans are a relatively new idea, but they’re smart, and their popularity will likely grow. In a country where privatized healthcare is a reality, plan costs are through the roof. Companies must contend with that, just like self-employed individuals who get their healthcare through the marketplace.

Employers trying to get their workers in better shape makes sense for everyone involved.

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About Shane Avron

Shane Avron is a freelance writer, specializing in business, general management, enterprise software, and digital technologies. In addition to Flevy, Shane's articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, among other business journals.

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