Should You Incentivize Your Benefits?

You probably already give employees a great benefits package. But have you thought about the impact you could make if you incentivized them? The payoff potential is high for your whole organization.

Why Add Incentives?

Sometimes people need the starting spark of a game or a prize to ignite their interest in a benefit. Whether it’s a weight-loss contest like the Biggest Loser challenge or a points system in a financial wellness program, everyone has fun creating and hitting goals.

It might start out as an effort to win money or bragging rights, but as employees engage with your benefits they often find they’re hitting milestones and feeling better about life. Once that happens, watch for the lifestyle switch that takes hold. It can change the way your entire team thinks and behaves around issues like investing or health!

And giving your team a reason to use the benefits you offer them is smart for business. After all, you’re paying good money for your programming. If it’s worth choosing the best mix of benefits and investing in those for your company, then it’s also worth doing the most you can to boost participation.

What’s the Best Way to Incentivize Your Benefits?

The best approach to incentivizing is an open question. It can and should be adapted to fit the size and culture of your company. Most companies will hit on a mix of individual and group level incentives. Let’s look at a few options for either individuals or groups that will get your benefits engagement rocking.

1. The Individual Level:

  • Rewarding employees who reach a benefit milestone

  • Entering them into a prize drawing for achieving a certain goal

  • Gifts for early adopters to get everyone excited about new benefits

2. The Group Level:

  • Giving a prize to the department or work team with the most or fastest progress in a fitness component or learning module of your wellness benefit

  • Making the prizes dependent on getting everyone in a department to hit a certain participation level or milestone

  • Taking a certain goal companywide with the promise of an extra vacation day or team meal when everyone makes the mark

Keep in mind that if you can track a benefit, rewarding milestones works better than mere enrollment. You don’t just want people signing up for the prize and stopping there. And if you are a larger company, say a team of 1,000 or more, your best bet to incentivize may be to go with a third-party vendor to provide you with an awesome rewards program.

What Types of Incentives Work?

This will obviously vary from benefit to benefit, but here are some examples that have worked well for many companies.

  • Cash prizes are always a powerful incentive.

  • Some companies offer a discount as incentives for reaching milestones within the benefit. In fact, one of the most popular rewards is a discount on health insurance for reaching certain wellness goals.

  • Inexpensive treats like Starbucks cards, iTunes cards or chocolate gift baskets are a big lure for many.

  • Everyone loves the latest gadgets, from iPads to Fitbits. These make for great raffle items when employees have qualified by hitting goals.

  • A catered lunch or outing is almost always a winner. Who wouldn’t work hard knowing their might be free food or fun in it for them?

  • Wellness points that are accumulated and used for company rewards or prizes are generally effective.

  • Getting a trophy or plaque—some form of visual recognition—for their desk might motivate some employees to get serious about their benefits.

  • Never underestimate the power of having employees earn an extra day off—or even a half-day.

  • If parking is a problem at your company, hold out the perk of free or reserved parking for qualifiers.

  • For your top wellness champions or participants, put some pizazz into prize delivery with a bunch of balloons and free snack basket for their workspace.

With the right incentives, you’ll see greater participation in your benefits and higher productivity on the job. And a little effort to incentivize usually goes a long way toward increasing engagement, making for a solid ROI.

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