Long gone are the days where health promotion consisted solely of employee cafeteria walls covered in posters for weight loss contests and blood pressure checks. An effective health promotion incentive program is multi-faceted and tailored to your employees’ needs. Here are some points to help keep your employees healthy consistently.
1. Know Your Population
If your population is not currently active, an on-site fitness center may be overboard to begin with. Get a realistic diagnosis of the areas your employees could use the most assistance with.
2. Proper Incentives
Learn what will appeal to your people. If you serve a large diabetic population, can you design a program that offsets the cost of medications and test strips when they complete regular doctors’ visits, A1c checkups, or nutrition education? For those battling their weight, can you bring a program like Weight Watchers on site? Would hiring a registered dietitian to run weight loss programs, lifestyle improvement sessions, and cooking classes be effective? If your population is sedentary, can you supplement gym membership fees?
Don’t underestimate the simple power of recognition. When your employees make improvements in their health, post their pictures, send out brief write- ups about their progress, and have a scrolling recognition board on your intranet.
4. Over Educate
Don’t assume your employees know basic wellness tips. Post nutrition and fitness tips everywhere: doors, bathrooms, locker rooms, breakrooms, stairwells, and send out both electronic and hard-copy newsletters. Provide lunch and learns regularly. This may be the cheapest, most effective place to start.
5. Poll Your Population
Find out what they really want so you don’t waste your time. Send out an electronic survey or take a poll in the employee cafeteria. Ask poignant questions to help you pinpoint the key places you should start: How likely are they to participate in a departmental weight loss competition? Would they prefer a Couch to 5K training program or step challenges with other employees?
6. Wellness Time
Would your employees be more likely to go to the doctor, have preventative check-ups, or follow up with specialist if they could earn “wellness time?” Wellness time incentives allow employees to earn wellness time that they can use for doctor’s visits instead of clocking out or using paid time off.
Plan Long Term, Execute Today
In order to reap the greatest benefits, you must have a long-term vision and avoid short-sighted solutions. Plan a program that looks 5-7 years down the road toward total cost savings, not just examines the bottom line to evaluate effectiveness of your programs next year. If you are willing to learn what is needed to meet the needs of your employee population, the long term rewards are endless!