Wellness Incentives: A Complete Guide

Wellness Incentives: A Complete Guide
Last Updated: June 1, 2023

What is a wellness incentive?

Employers use wellness incentives to motivate employees to live healthy lifestyles and to take actions that benefit their bodily and mental well-being. Wellness incentives are also used to encourage healthy behaviours such as quitting smoking. It may be provided in return for doing a health risk assessment and establishing some lifelong healthy routines.

Incentives for wellness have recently grown in popularity among employers and employees to enhance worker productivity and health. Incentives can take many forms, including monetary awards, special deals on goods or services connected to your health, and additional time off. The objective is to encourage staff members to adopt better routines and ways of life, which can improve health outcomes and lower healthcare expenses for both the business and the staff members. 70% of employers have made physical changes to support healthy behaviour. Approximately 87% of employees responded that they prioritize health and wellness benefits when choosing a job. In this guide, we will look at the benefits and best practices of wellness incentives, the different types of incentives that can be used, and how to incorporate incentives into a wellness program.

Related: Employee Wellness: Everything you need to know

Benefits of Wellness Incentives


There are numerous benefits to implementing a wellness incentive program in your workplace. These benefits can include:

Improved Employee Health: Employers can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and obesity by offering employees wellness incentives to make healthier choices and begin healthier lifestyles. According to Zippia, 57% of high-risk workers became low-risk after participating in a wellness program provided at work. This could lead to reduced medical costs, improved employee productivity, and decreased absenteeism from work.

Reduced Healthcare Costs: A survey by Gitnux demonstrates that 45% of employees claimed their current employer's wellness program helped them save money on healthcare. By promoting healthy behaviours, employers can help reduce the cost of healthcare for both the organization and its employees. This may lead to lower health insurance rates and decreased medical expenses.

Increased Staff Morale: By demonstrating that the company cares about the health and well-being of its employees, wellness incentives can assist in increasing staff morale. According to Gitnux, employee engagement increased in 74% of companies that implemented wellness incentives. This can lead to a more positive workplace culture and increased employee engagement.

Related: Employee Engagement Ideas you can use in your Organisation

Types of Wellness Incentives

types of wellness incentives

Organizations can offer several types of wellness incentives to encourage healthy behaviours among employees. These incentives can include:

Financial Incentives: are a popular way to incentivize healthy behaviours. More than 85% of workers think it is crucial or extremely crucial for their employer to offer financial wellness initiatives. These financial inducements can be cash awards, gift cards, or healthcare goods and services discounts.

Related: Employee Financial Wellness: What you need to know

Time off Incentives: This can include additional vacation days, flexible work arrangements, or even paid time off to participate in wellness activities. Some organizations offer time off as a wellness incentive. A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that about 51% of businesses offer paid time off as a perk for workers.

Wellness Challenges: Wellness challenges are a fun way to encourage healthy behaviours among employees. These challenges can include steps, fitness, or healthy eating challenges.

Health Screenings: Some organizations offer free or discounted health screenings as a wellness incentive. These screenings can include blood pressure checks, cholesterol screenings, or diabetes screenings.

Best practices of wellness incentives

Wellness incentives are assisting companies in changing their approach to employee health and wellness. Best practices of wellness incentives include designing a program that aligns with the needs and interests of employees, setting realistic goals, offering a variety of incentives, communicating effectively, and measuring program effectiveness. When designing a program, it is important to assess employee needs and interests through surveys or health screenings. This can help ensure that the program is effective and sustainable. Setting realistic goals is also crucial, as overly ambitious goals can lead to employee burnout and low program participation. Employers and managers can assist corporate wellness programs by utilizing big data, cognitive analytics, and other technology.

Related: 11 Employee Wellness Program Ideas to Enhance Workplaces

Click on the link below to learn more about how employers can use data to promote wellness programs:


Offering a variety of incentives such as financial rewards, time off, wellness challenges, and health screenings can appeal to different employee interests and needs. Effective communication is also essential for the program's success. Employers must ensure that staff members are informed about the program, its objectives, and the rewards offered. Finally, measuring program effectiveness through employee surveys, health screenings, or healthcare cost data can help ensure that the program is achieving its goals and positively impacting employee health and productivity.

In the long run, the best wellness incentives are those that support healthy behaviours, align with employee demands and interests, and have a beneficial effect on productivity and employee health.

Effective wellness incentives include financial rewards for signing up for a gym membership, discounts on health-related products or services, more vacation time for completing a fitness challenge, and free or inexpensive health tests. Employers can also offer healthy snacks and beverages or provide ergonomic workstations to promote employee health. Some organizations have even implemented gamification in their wellness programs, where employees earn points or badges for completing healthy behaviours or challenges, which can be redeemed for rewards such as gift cards or extra time off.  

How to incorporate incentives into a Wellness Program

Employees can be motivated to adopt healthy habits and participate in wellness activities by incorporating rewards into their wellness programs. A survey conducted by Rand Corporation revealed that 69% of companies provided a wellness program; of those that did, 75% provided incentives to encourage program participation.

Do incentives increase wellness program uptake? Yes, they do. A study by the National Institutes of Health revealed that employers who provide a complete set of program options and give incentives have greater participation rates.

The first step to incorporating incentives into a wellness program is identifying the specific behaviours or activities the company wants to encourage. These can include getting regular physical activity or attending wellness workshops. Once these goals are established, incentives can be tailored to encourage employees to achieve them.

One common approach to incentives is to offer rewards for meeting specific goals. These rewards range from small items like water bottles or pedometers to larger rewards like gift cards or additional time off. For example, employees who reach a certain number of steps daily or attend a certain number of wellness classes could earn a prize or recognition.

Another approach uses social incentives, such as team challenges or competitions. By creating friendly competition between employees or teams, individuals may be more motivated to participate in wellness activities to help their team succeed. This approach can also help to build camaraderie and encourage social support for healthy behaviours. Ultimately, the key to successful wellness incentives is to make them meaningful, achievable, and aligned with the overall goals of the wellness program.


The potential benefits of wellness incentives for employees include increased productivity and lower healthcare expenditures for organizations. A successful wellness incentive program requires ongoing evaluation and adaptation to meet the changing needs of both employees and the organization. Data analytics can help tailor incentives to individual employee needs and preferences while measuring the impact of these programs over time.

Cindy Baker
Natasha Chimphondah
Natasha Chimphondah is a motivated and experienced Organizational Development Consultant with a passion for helping businesses thrive. Natasha has honed her skills in Board Evaluation, employee engagement, and Job evaluation. Natasha is also an accomplished writer, having published numerous business articles on topics ranging from workplace culture to leadership development. Their writing is known for its clarity, insightfulness, and practicality. As a consultant, Natasha is confident in her ability to identify areas of improvement within an organization and develop effective solutions that drive results. And with their enthusiasm for the work they do, Natasha is always eager to take on new challenges and help businesses achieve their goals.

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