Incentives, Program Configuration, and Employee Uptake of Workplace Wellness Programs

Published in: Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, v. 58, no. 1, Jan. 2016, p. 30-34

Posted on RAND.org on January 14, 2016

by Haijing Crystal Huang, Soeren Mattke, Benjamin Saul Batorsky, Jeremy N. V. Miles, Harry H. Liu, Erin Audrey Taylor

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OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine the effect of wellness program configurations and financial incentives on employee participation rate. METHODS: We analyze a nationally representative survey on workplace wellness programs from 407 employers using cluster analysis and multivariable regression analysis. RESULTS: Employers who offer incentives and provide a comprehensive set of program offerings have higher participation rates. The effect of incentives differs by program configuration, with the strongest effect found for comprehensive and prevention-focused programs. Among intervention-focused programs, incentives are not associated with higher participation. CONCLUSIONS: Wellness programs can be grouped into distinct configurations, which have different workplace health focuses. Although monetary incentives can be effective in improving employee participation, the magnitude and significance of the effect is greater for some program configurations than others.

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