How Fitness Rewards Boost Participation in Employee Wellness Programs

How Fitness Rewards Boost Participation in Employee Wellness Programs

In addition to ever-increasing healthcare costs, can you think of a critical problem costing companies millions of dollars every year?

Turnover. Yes, the dreaded T word.

Gallup estimates that that it costs as much as twice an employee’s annual salary to replace them, when you consider the amount of time and effort that goes into training. All told, according to Gallup, US businesses lose a whopping $1 trillion per year due to voluntary turnover. 

Organizations have invested billions of dollars in HR strategies to reduce turnover, from on-site fitness centers to half-day Fridays to daily catered lunches. While nap rooms in the office are certainly awesome, the single best way to retain employees is a lot simpler (and cheaper). It’s called recognition.

According to a joint study by SurveyMonkey and Bonusly, 63 percent of workers who said they were “always” or “usually” recognized by management said they were “very unlikely” to job hunt in the next 3–6 months. Conversely, just 11 percent of employees who said they were “never” or “rarely” recognized stated the same. Meanwhile, a survey by OGO noted that a lack of recognition has a monumentally negative impact on how employees feel about their workplace. The survey found that 40 percent of employed Americans would put more energy into their work if they were recognized consistently. All told, more than 80 percent of professionals believe they aren’t adequately recognized for their contributions, a recipe for chronic turnover.

Organizations tend to assume that salary and titles are the driving force behind turnover. While these factors are certainly important, surveys find that a lack of recognition and engagement drives 44 percent of employees to switch jobs. In fact, if organizations were better thought out, nearly 70 percent of employees report they would be more encouraged to stay put.

The data are clear: Employee rewards programs are critically important to reducing turnover. Here are 5 ways health and fitness rewards enhance your organization:

Rewards Make Your Wellness Programs Much More Effective

You’ve spent a lot of money putting together your wellness program in an effort to cultivate healthy workplace habits and drive down healthcare costs, but actual engagement is low. Have you looked at your fitness rewards program lately?

For some people, getting healthy is all the reward they need to stick with a wellness program. But for the rest of us… well, a little bit of swag could help. Indeed, a survey by UnitedHealthcare found that employees enrolled in wellness programs that lack rewards resulted in much lower participation compared to programs with proper incentives. When fitness rewards were added in, engagement jumped by a whopping 60 percent.

Put it this way: Are you more likely to challenge yourself to average 10,000 steps per day if the reward is lower cholesterol levels or if the reward is lower cholesterol levels and a new Apple Watch. Even rewards in much lower price tiers have been shown to incentivize employees to engage in a wellness program. Think insulated sports bottles, running gear, fit bands, paid entrance fees to organized athletic events, free exercise classes, smoothie makers, gym gags, Bluetooth headphones, and so on. When it comes to boosting engagement in wellness, every bit of recognition counts. What other fitness reward ideas can you think of?

Rewards Build a Positive Company Culture

Culture is the X-factor of any organization. It doesn’t matter how competitive your salaries are or how many perks you offer, nothing can substitute for a positive workplace culture that values inclusion. Every day, your employees should arrive at work knowing they are valued and appreciated for their efforts.

That’s why any employee recognition program must place a priority on inclusion. When employees are empowered to recognize peers, praise occurs more organically and more frequently. That’s why wellness platforms like Woliba are built on a foundation of peer recognition to help leaders gain a valuable understanding of what the entire team values, not just the most visible players. While it might seem at face value that a customized approach that reaches employees at all levels of the organization might be too expensive or time-consuming, many employers find that a tailored approach actually reduces costs while better serving all workers.

At Woliba, for instance, employees take wellness assessments that pinpoint areas of growth, from weight loss to smoking cessation to healthy eating to starting an exercise program. From there, our powerful tools allow employees to find coworkers with similar goals. Whether it’s finding a workout buddy or joining a company-wide challenge, your wellness software leverages the power of inclusion to help organizations a culture of recognition and wellbeing.

Rewards Boost Profits

We’re going to say something that might blow your mind. Are you ready? Happy employees make their companies more money.

Is your mind blown yet? All kidding aside, at some point down the road, we stopped talking about profits and happiness in the same breath. Work was for work, and personal time was for wellness activities. Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Employees are savvier and increasingly seek out careers that provide purpose and meaningful connections. Younger employees jump from job to job not necessarily because they seek higher salaries and more prestigious titles, but because they want an organization that aligns with their values.

“Highly engaged organizations have double the rate of success of lower engaged organizations,” explains Harvard Business Review. Meanwhile, Gallup found that highly engaged teams show 21 percent greater profitability. The statistics show that organizations cannot afford to ignore employee engagement, with an exhaustive report by The Engagement Institute finding that disengaged employees cost US companies up to $550 billion every single year. Conversely, Willis Towers Watson, reports that companies with high and sustainable levels of engagement have operating margins up to three times higher than companies with low or unsustainable levels of engagement.

One of the single best ways to engage employees is with a full-service wellness program that allows HR professionals to easily manage rewards and recognition programs. Software like Woliba allows a single admin to foster a sense of inclusion by launching companywide surveys; bring fitness reward ideas into reality; and break down data and analytics by department and location to save time and avoid headaches.

Increase Morale

Morale is one of those hard-to-measure metrics that is critical to the success of any organization. While it may not be easy to calculate exactly how high or low morale is in a given company, we do know how it is formed: recognition. Simply put, if you want to boost engagement and instill a widespread sense of purpose, it’s essential that your team believes its work is noticed and appreciated by their colleagues and especially their managers.

With a rewards and recognition program integrated into your wellness software, admins can easily and publicly recognize employees who go the extra mile for the organization. Recognition can be a companywide shout-out over email or in the newsletter, and it can be reflected in giving employees a choice between dozens of different rewards for reaching fitness goals.

Morale is also built when employees simply feel recognized. This can mean taking time to highlight birthdays, wedding anniversaries, work anniversaries, and other milestones that usually fall by the wayside, especially in larger organizations. When an employee is not made to feel special on their special day, he or she will feel less engaged. Your wellness software can ensure these moments are never forgotten. Woliba, for instance, can help admins program a custom calendar of these important days, and can even send out automated emails to ensure everyone feels acknowleged and appreciated.

Keep Employees Inspired

The most successful organizations challenge their employees to find creative solutions to difficult problems. Employees who come to get up each morning looking forward to work—that’s the goal of every company, no matter how small or large. You can control so many aspects of the workplace, but you can’t control how inspired your employees are.

Think about the traditional forms of workplace recognition. A pen after three years on the job. A gift card after five. An occasional “job well done” by the boss after a successful presentation. Should disengaged employees be blamed for poor productivity when their employer is just as disengaged when it comes to recognizing their achievements? In fact, 85 percent of companies that spend just 1 percent or more of their payroll on employee recognition programs see a positive impact on engagement levels. Companies with robust programs, such as Woliba’s, see engagement jump by as much as 60 percent.

According to a McKinsey & Co. study, companies that value recognition are 12 times more likely to see strong business results. These are organizations that see the workplace as more than just a place where you clock in and clock out. It’s a place that fosters excellent health habits alongside work habits. It fosters personal growth alongside professional growth. It’s a place where employees arrive inspired not just to get work done, but to build bonds that last a lifetime.

Building such a workplace might seem like a tall order, but employees are not solely inspired by big, grand, or expensive gestures. Sometimes all it takes is a thoughtful reward for a job well done, being wished happy birthday, or a wellness challenge that takes their personal goals into account. More than anything else, it’s about feeling included. At the end of the day, that’s exactly what corporate wellness is all about.

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