Corporate wellness incentives

3.1 Incentives for Engagement and Behavior Change

Now that we have an understanding of the support and resources available when developing and implementing a Corporate Wellness program, let us explore how incentives can be used to drive long term success and behavior change.

Why Choose to be Healthy?

I urge you to visit your local gym and look at the individuals running on the elliptical and treadmill machines. Most of them are likely not smiling and you may be asking yourself, why do they do run if they do not enjoy it?

I was a cross-country runner and track and field athlete for over 6 years. When people hear this, they always assume that I love running. The truth is, I do not. Like the runners at the gym, running is far from my idea of fun. What kept me going to practice, however, were the benefits it brought me.

We make healthy choices and lead healthy lives because we are aware of the benefits. Incentives serve as a great way to not only increase participation, but also awareness of the benefits of healthy living to inspire long-term healthy behavior changes.

The Benefits of Incentives

Incentives are great and almost an essential piece of any Corporate Wellness program. As mentioned in a previous article, the inclusion of incentives in Corporate Wellness programs are associated with a 20% higher program participation rate1.

Including an incentive system rewards employees for making healthy choices, making them feel recognized and appreciated. Recognition improves employee engagement by 26%2 with 37% of employees believing that recognition is the most important thing to lead them to produce quality work3. As we have learned in Chapter 1.2, employee engagement is crucial for your business to excel and outpace your competitors.

Arguably the most important benefit of incentives is their ability to effectively promote long-term behavior change. The goal of every Corporate Wellness program should be promoting healthy behavior change. Incentives serve as an excellent, initial motivator for employees to make healthy changes in their lives. Over time, employees will become aware of the benefits of their healthy choices and use these benefits to motivate themselves to adapt these healthy behaviors for the long-term.

The Cost of Incentives and Examples

Incentives can range in cost to fit any budget of any business. The scale and price of your incentives, however, can have varying impact on your program’s overall engagement. Below are a few examples of effective incentives:

  • Gift card to a local healthy activities
  • Raffle tickets for various prizes
  • Discounts on health insurance premiums
  • Free month membership to a local gym or yoga studio

Concluding Thoughts

Incentives are an excellent way to increase program participation and employee engagement. Above all, however, incentives serve as the spark to inspire behavior change as your employees will be able to experience and eventually be motivated by the benefits of health and wellness. In the next chapter, we will learn about the two main types of Corporate Wellness programs and how incentives can be implemented into each type of program.



  1. Mattke, Soeren, Kandice A. Kapinos, John Caloyeras, Erin Audrey Taylor, Benjamin Saul Batorsky, Harry H. Liu, Kristin R. Van Busum, and Sydne Newberry. Incentives for Workplace Wellness Programs: They Increase Employee Participation, but Building a Better Program Is Just as Effective. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2015.



2 thoughts on “3.1 Incentives for Engagement and Behavior Change

  1. Jess Stranger says:

    Hi Marco, this is a great post. I cannot agree with you more that incentives for engagement to change behavior. For example, my work sometimes does a business wide weightless competition, running competition, weight lifting competition or what have you. Everyone usually participates and I’ve seen friendships form, a healthy competitive mentality form, as well as it’s team building and support community building.


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