Wellness Incentive Ideas

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A wellness program doesn’t have to cost a small business lots of money, but a small investment doesn’t mean you should be happy with a small return. Using a variety of incentives, you can create a wellness program that benefits your employees in a wide variety of ways, while improving your bottom line.

Fitness Rewards

An obvious choice for motivating employees to participate in your wellness program is to offer prizes such as fitness equipment, classes or memberships for meeting certain goals. Use weight loss, blood cholesterol improvements or attendance at a gym as measurements for awarding prizes. Awards can include heart rate monitors, gift certificates for apparel and shoes, memberships to fitness centers, a cash contribution toward the purchase of an exercise machine or paid or discounted sessions with a personal trainer.

Non-Wellness Gifts

Some wellness programs aren’t completely fitness-oriented. They can include components such as smoking cessation, improved nutrition, substance-abuse education, stress reduction and pre- and post-natal counseling. For people who complete these programs, consider gift certificates to restaurants, iPods, tickets to concerts or sporting events or other items your employees might like. Take into account the age and interests of your employees and offer a choice of gifts, rather than taking a one-gift-fits-all approach.


Work with your human resources department to estimate how your wellness program might reduce your health care costs and absenteeism, and increase your productivity and efficiency. Offer cash rewards for improved attendance. For example, for each sick day an employee doesn’t use, pay half of that employee’s daily wage in cash. Keep an eye on this type of incentive – you don’t want employees coming in with the flu or a cold in order to earn some extra cash.

Paid Time Off

Depending on your budget, offering paid time off might be a better incentive for your business. Tie this to completion of preset goals you announce for wellness participation or health improvements. Make employees use this paid time off by not allowing any year-end buybacks or banking for the next year. The point of this incentive is to get employees to relax, de-stress and recharge their energy.

Team Rewards

To create a stronger sense of unity among your employees, create team-based wellness concepts that award a cash contribution to the winning team’s charity of choice. Put different department members on teams to encourage wider interaction among your employees. Create charts that track each team’s progress in weight loss, cholesterol improvements or gym attendance.



About the Author

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

Photo Credits

  • Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images