Financial incentives have taken on greater importance in the drive to increase employee participation in health improvement programs, according to a recent study. The survey, conducted by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), found that 62 percent of employers offered incentives last year, compared to 57 percent in 2009.
Employers used incentives including cash, gift cards, and contributions to health savings accounts (HSA). Some used punitive efforts such as reducing employer contributions to health plans if employees did not participate. The survey found that incentives averaged a total of $430 per employee in 2010, a 65 percent increase from 2009.
"Employers know that a healthier workforce is more productive in the long term," noted Fidelity’s Sunit Patel, “Wellness programs in the past have typically had modest impact because of low participation rates, but our study indicated that incentives are starting to make a real difference in employee interest an engagement.”
The study reflects the behaviors and offerings of 147 companies in diverse industries nationwide. It is a follow-up to a 2009 study.