Should workplace wellness incentives stay a mystery?

I was talking with a friend the other day and somehow the attention got redirected to his shoe. He had a small, black plastic devise weaved into his top shoelace and when I asked about it, he said it was “for work.” While at first I thought it was a new contraption for house arrest, I determined since we were at church, that was unlikely. He began to explain that the small black devise was keeping track of his steps. His workplace had offered incentives to employees based on healthy living, and tracking his steps was one way he was raking up wellness points – whatever that meant.

Pedometers for employees are just one way workplaces are encouraging and rewarding wellness initiatives

Workplace Wellness Incentive Ideas

I don’t know the details of where this gentlemen works, but I know it’s downtown in a large office and it has something to do with insurance. So his workplace is probably a cubicle-land and involves a sit-down job. It makes sense that his company wants to get people moving – they lead a pretty stationary life from 8-5. He also mentioned that in addition to the pedometer, he and his employees were being rewarded when they attended lunch-and-learns and other wellness events.

Working toward Mystery Wellness Incentives

With all of the initiatives he was participating in, I asked him about the end result. He said his company was promoting healthy living but the rewards were a mystery. He speculated that they could involve some type of financial reward – perhaps additional funds put into his HSA or even a reduction or cut in his health insurance premiums. But he had no idea when he would see it or how much it would be – or even if rewards were coming in a financial form. He joked that after all of the walking and workshops he’s done – watch him get $10 at the end of the year.

Should Workplace Wellness Incentives be a mystery?

This guy tends to stay physically fit anyway, so his participation in workplace wellness activities wasn’t much of a stretch. But it makes me wonder about his other coworkers and if they’ve started leading healthier lives because of an unknown mystery incentive coming at the end of the year. Should employees be kept in the dark about what their wellness bonus will be, or would guaranteeing the bonus make more people participate? My friend didn’t seem to mind the mystery. But I’m not sure that’s universal.

Would you participate in wellness programs in hopes of a financial reward at the end of a year? Or, would you need to know what you were working for in order to get out and start moving?





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  1. The incentives shouldn’t be a secret, but they shouldn’t be doing it for the incentives. They should be doing it for themselves, or it won’t stick.

  2. It is great when companies offer wellness incentives but I think people would be more likely to participate if they knew what the reward was.

  3. The company may still be trying to determine what exactly the reward will be. After personally being involved in multiple committees myself, finalizing anything takes many many months. However, if that is not the case, I wonder why they are not sharing the final outcome. Knowing provides motivation to all the participants.

  4. I think that the employees should know exactly what they are working towards. Otherwise they might have disappointment.

  5. I would prefer to know what the incentive is before I do all of the work. Keeping it a mystery seems like trickery.

  6. I think incentives for living right is a good thing. I wish more businesses would offer programs like this. It might cut down on the number of obese people in this country.

  7. A healthy workplace environment can make for a happier workplace environment. Especially if it is done together to create team building and camaraderie.

  8. It is great to see workplace wellness making its way into the lime light. Hope to see more articles like this. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Having incentives are great but I think they would better motivate people if they are clearly communicated. Some people enjoy working for a mystery reward but I believe the majority of people would be more motivated if they know what they are working for.

  10. I would like to know the goal I am working towards, that way I can track my progress along the way and know what I am achieving that goal for.

  11. This was a really interesting post. I think keeping employees informed of wellness benefit is a good idea.

  12. They absolutely should not be kept a secret. Secrets breed mistrust, while honesty breeds loyalty.

  13. I feel that transparency is key to any employee program. Even with the best of intentions, employees might be expecting something different than what it real, and lose morale when the shoe drops.

  14. Employees should be doing it for their own benefit, not for a prize, but if there is a prize it should be known.

  15. Incentives are a great way to motivate people to stay active in the work place. Ultimately, it will benefit the company to have healthy employees who are more productive and are less likely to miss work due to illness. It’s win-win.

  16. I’m not sure what the benefit is to encourage employees to be active, say those that are active in the end will “win” something – but never say what it is. I do see from their point that by being vague with the reward they may have more people participate in the competition – but they are also setting it up so that individuals (after a hard spot) will be less inclined to continue with the healthy lifestyle.

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