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Why Employee Wellness Financial Incentives Backfire and What to Do Instead — A New Guideline by Health Enhancement Systems
Date:7/27/2013

Midland, MI (PRWEB) July 27, 2013

The most recent Health Enhancement Systems guideline — Why Financial Incentives Backfire and What to Do Instead — advises wellness professionals on the pitfalls of bribing workers to change health habits. Dean Witherspoon, the company’s President and founder, explains why financial incentives have very little chance of making a lasting impact on diet, exercise, and stress management.

“When people are paid to change, they’re likely to revert to the old behavior when the compensation period ends,” he notes. “Paying employees to get healthier is becoming very popular but it doesn’t work; health behavior change is incredibly complex and requires intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic rewards just aren’t effective in the long run.”

Why Financial Incentives Backfire and What to Do Instead underscores the importance of acknowledging employee wellness accomplishments with non-financial rewards. While seemingly simple, these methods can be very effective in fostering intrinsic motivation to help participants change because they want to, for the health benefits, not the money:

  • A big goal and a big event. In addition to individual goals, the incentive program needs a big organization goal. It should be something for everyone to rally around, such as 95% participation in a core feature. The goal also needs to be tied to a big event like an annual party or stockholder meeting to close the loop on achievement.
  • Interim
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