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As an employer, you are likely searching for ways to engage your workforce in their health and well-being. A healthy lifestyle can positively impact productivity, limit absenteeism and presenteeism, as well as reduce health care spending. Because of this, many organizations offer significant opportunities for employees to manage their health through various types of programming and support. 

Motivation to participate 

The goal, of course, is that employees will participate in these programs because they are intrinsically motivated to improve their health.  Sometimes it takes more than intrinsic motivation to boost participation in wellness programming, though. That’s why many organizations couple this type of programming with incentives for participation. 

There is a great deal of research surrounding incentives. Incentives alone don’t change lifestyle behavior or habits.  Incentives do, however, serve a unique purpose in a wellness program. They can be used to increase interest, and even the fun-factor, of your wellness program.

Incentives should be appropriately valued and reasonable, based on the requirements for participants.  Additionally, they should be related to health and well-being. You can still offer incentives, even if you don’t have a large budget. In fact, large incentives don’t necessarily yield greater results1. Remember, the goal of incentives is not to change an employee’s health, but rather to increase program interest and excitement.  

Get Creative with incentive programs   

How can you offer incentives for your program that will excite employees and support their continued goals of improving and maintaining their health?

In short, get creative! Blue Cross NC’s Client Health Promotion team recommends the following 3 incentives opportunities:

Think local

Employees spend at least one-third of their day at work. What types of food do they have access to within walking or biking distance of the office? Consider forming a partnership with a local restaurant, vendor or healthy food truck to provide free, or discounted, vouchers for healthy meals. Offer employees vouchers as an incentive for participating in the program.

Increase opportunities

Partnerships with local gym facilities and group fitness organizations can be an additional benefit to employees, especially if there isn’t access to fitness equipment or walking trails at the worksite. Reduced, or free, memberships to these facilities can help encourage increased activity, which is a tenet of a healthy lifestyle.

Praise goes a long way

One of the greatest assets to a wellness program is the individuals who champion your message and brand. Wellness champions are often the employees who attend events, share opportunities with others, and share feedback with wellness program leaders. Develop a formal wellness champions program and recognize those individuals through the newsletter, company banquets, and even annual awards ceremonies. Wellness champions contribute to the company’s culture of wellness and often go unnoticed. Make an effort to incentivize those individuals through recognition opportunities throughout the year.

To learn more about strategy-based solutions, contact your Health Promotion Specialist or HealthPromotion@bcbsnc.com to receive information about our 360 Wellness Roadmap


  1. source: “Boosting Wellness Participation without Breaking the Bank” Towers Watson (towerswatson.com/research/insider)
Jordan Nichols

About Jordan Nichols

Jordan C. Nichols is a nationally Certified Worksite Wellness Specialist and Client Wellness Program Manager for Blue Cross NC. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her two children, Alice and Boone, and her husband, Joshua.

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