5 ways to incentivize wellness program participation

Workplace health and wellness programs are becoming part of the norm in a standard benefit package. It’s not a fad; it’s here to stay. In fact, wellness programs have been proven to lower health care costs and can be used as a recruiting and retention tool. Participation in your program is vital to making is successful. The big question is, what drives employees to be engaged and participate?

Here are five ways to incentivize wellness program participation and ensure success:

Gift cards

Gift cards are a very successful way to incentivize participation in wellness programs. It is giving “free” money to your employees and allowing them to have the power to choose their own reward. Gift cards take the guessing out of the reward process and is an easy and efficient way to reward participants for their dedication and time put into your program.

HSA/FSA/HRA dollars

Contribute cash to HSAs, FSAs, or HRAs that are offered as part of your benefits program as an incentive for participation. This gives the employee an investment and allows the employer some reigns on how the incentive is used.


Friendly competition is motivating and contagious. Contests are a great way to get employees involved in well-being efforts. Motivate change in physical fitness, weight loss, and smoking in return for tangible rewards such as public recognition, a fitness device, or a catered healthy lunch. A step or stairs challenge that tracks how many steps or stairs employees have walked in a given time period is just one of the many contests you can hold.

Premium reductions

Premium reductions, just like HSA and FSA rewards, give employees a motivating incentive and allows the employer some reigns on how the incentive is used. Employees will love the idea of their health insurance costs decreasing a little bit each pay check.

Wellness reimbursement program

A wellness reimbursement program, such as My Wellness Bucks, allows employees to choose what reward they would like while giving the employer some control. With wellness reimbursement programs, employees can choose to be reimbursed for a number of pre-defined wellness expenses for things such as fitness classes, financial planning sessions, or even a massage.

As you can see the possibilities really are endless when trying to decide how to incentivize your employees for wellness programs. Any incentive will work, it is just about finding the right one to truly motivate, create change, and engage your employees. Just don’t forget to use a variety of different incentives to keep things interesting and fresh!