Which Incentives Work Best When Setting Up a Health And Wellness Program: Carrots or Sticks?

BY Lucy Fang
Jun 01, 2017
employee health and wellness program, participatory incentives, health and wellness incentive, recognition

A successful wellness program is more about how you frame your program whether you’re using disincentives or incentives. You win the toss either way with improved health and wellness, along with reduced health care costs for all because of overall improved employee wellness. What do you need to consider when using carrots and sticks as incentives in your program?

The industry culture of an organization may be a contributing factor worth considering. Employees who work in environments where conformity is not valued but creativity is, will mostly likely respond better to carrots and sticks framed as being “good for them” (vs. “do this or else”). Employees who work in bottom-line-focused or highly regulated industries, such as finance, or retail might be used to firm management directives. So, it might be in your organization’s best interest to test a mix of carrots and sticks to see what will work best with your people and change up your message and the delivery.  

Distribution and timing of the incentives and disincentives also are important factors. It’s human nature to desire immediate benefits and delayed costs. (Hello, zero-money-down deals!)

Sometimes, you may want to consider disguise your carrots as sticks to have the most impact. Fear of losing out on an incentive can be more motivating than the promise of gain. For instance, when designing your employee health and wellness program, consider offering your employees a “provisional” incentive that will be lost should they fail to meet a health standard.

It’s alway a great idea to test a mix of participatory incentives whether they are considered carrots or sticks. See what work with your people, and change up your delivery and message. Now that we have helped you master “carrots” and “sticks,” what are you using at your organization? What’s working for you? What’s not working?  

The team at All Digital Rewards can help you develop a health and wellness incentive program solution that best fits your needs and that of your employees. Before going down the road of starting an in-depth planning session for your program, contact ADR for a quick demo and learn how we can add value to your program with our health and wellness incentive payout tool and take the guessing out of an already complicated process.