Corporate wellness insights

What Incentives Motivate Your Employees?

Posted by Matthew on 09.28.2017

Wellness Incentives

As we kick into high gear this fall, we’re reminding ourselves of all the takeaways we’ve learned in this industry—so we thought we’d remind you too! This blog was originally published in March 2016. 

Money talks—but the fear of losing money talks louder. That’s the finding of a recent study looking into how money motivates wellness program participants, as explained in this Huffington Post article.

A University of Pennsylvania research project studied 281 overweight or obese employees. Participants used a smartphone step-counter app to track their activity levels for 13 weeks. For this study, participants were given a goal of at least 7,000 steps per day, then randomly divided into one of four incentive-based groups:

  1. Received no wellness incentives
  2. Received $1.40 for each day they met the goal
  3. Lost $1.40 from a monthly incentive ($42) each time the daily goal was not met
  4. Drew lottery numbers for a chance to win $50, which they could only collect if they had achieved 7,000 steps on the previous day

The result? The loss-incentive group (#3 above) met their step goal on 45% of days, compared to 36% of days in the lottery group and 35% in the gain incentive group (#2 above). The comparison group with no incentive only met their goal on average 30% of days.

So while people like to earn a little extra money, they really hate losing it. Something to consider as we develop wellness incentives.

Photo credit: Money by Tax Credits

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