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What to Do Before You Set Your Wellness Incentives Plan In Motion

You may have taken dozens of vacations, but don’t you still catch yourself heading out the door going over a mental list? Passport? Check. Swim suit and sunscreen? Check and check. Mail pick-up arranged? Coffee pot unplugged? The more experience you have, the more effective your pre-launch check list usually is—and the less likely you are to be the person turning the cab around because your luggage is still sitting in the hallway.

Launching a wellness incentives program requires the same kind of preparation. In case you haven’t prepared a list (and checked it twice), we’ve put a few together for you to help make sure you haven’t missed anything.

Based on our Incentives Best Practices Study of 52 employer clients, which tracked the rewards-related behaviors of over 2 million people, organizations with a simpler incentive program have coaching engagement rates 7% higher than those with complex programs.

Have you covered the basics?

  • Does your organization have clear wellness objectives that your team understands and can get behind?
  • Have you made sure that your incentives design directly supports your overall wellness objectives?
  • Is your incentive program aligned with your benefits plan?
  • Do you have strong management support for your wellness and incentives programs?
  • Is your incentive program simple enough for your population to understand?
  • Have you agreed on what requirements you’ll use, such as national or at-risk guidelines?
  • Do you require a health assessment as a basis for your incentives program?
  • Have you established how long people will have to earn the reward?
  • Do you have a plan to handle exceptions, such as pregnancy?
  • Are you confident that the overall participant experience is positive? Have you tried it?
  • Do you have a plan for new employees, spouses, and family members to participate?
  • Do you have an approved budget for your incentives program?
  • Have you explored cost-neutral approaches (where premium reductions for participants are offset by additional premiums for non-participants)?
  • Have you weighed the pros and cons of self-reported and imported data?
  • Do you know what sources of imported data you’ll accept, including biometric screenings, home tests, or provider lab results?
  • Have you decided how and when you’ll measure improvement towards your goals?
  • Do you have baseline measurements that you can use to compare population health status, health risk levels, and healthcare costs before and after you start your incentives program.
  • Have you made sure your incentives plan is compliant with ACA regulations?

Is your population ready for wellness incentives?

  • Have the people in your population accepted your wellness programs so far?
  • Have they shown that they’re willing to change their health behaviors?
  • Have incentives been successful in other corporate initiatives?
  • Have you tested your program design with people outside your wellness team to get their response? (Focus groups are a great tool!)
  • Have you talked to your wellness program vendor for examples of similar designs and the experience of other clients like you?
  • Have you made sure your incentives are fair, and aren’t heavily weighted towards people who are already healthy?
  • Are you confident that your requirements aren’t so challenging that people might decide it’s not even worth trying?

Are you ready to communicate your plan?

  • Have you developed your communications strategy, with a full-year plan laid out?
  • Is your program simple to communicate?
  • Do you have wellness communications programs in place that you can use to explain your incentives plan to your population?

Frequent Communication Improves Participation Rates [1. WebMD’s 2013 Incentives Best Practices Study]

  • Are your calls to action clear and simple so people know what they’re supposed to do next?
  • Do you have multiple communication modalities and messages so you reach everyone?
  • Can you target messages to specific segments of your population, such as those who haven’t completed their health assessment yet, or those with certain health conditions or risks?
  • Have you thought about how you’re going to communicate to everyone, in different locations and job functions?
  • Does you plan include language as required under the new ACA regulations for reasonable alternatives?

Wellness Incentives Workbook

Wellness Incentives Workbook

Still have questions? Download our Wellness Incentives Workbook, a hands-on, checklist-based guide to wellness incentives best practices.


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