Skip to content

Corporate Wellness

How to create an effective employee incentive programme

Having trouble getting your employees to engage with your wellbeing programme? Or maybe you’ve created an incentive programme for your employees, but your employee engagement ideas just aren’t as sticky in action as they were on the whiteboard.

Employee wellbeing programmes are expanding across the board to support employees in the full lifecycle of health and wellbeing. However, in our annual wellbeing industry survey, we found that only 18% of employers see daily engagement in their wellbeing programme, and the majority (60%) state that employees’ competing priorities are the biggest barrier to increased participation.

So, what’s the secret to engaging your workforce with your wellbeing programme?

Though there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, creating incentive programmes for employees that fit the needs of your budget, wellbeing programme and employee population will enable you to make your wellbeing programme something that complements, rather than competes against, your employees’ priorities.

Here are 3 simple, yet effective, tips to help you create better employee incentive programmes.

Your incentive game plan: turning extrinsic rewards into intrinsic rewards 

Extrinsic vs intrinsic — how do these different types of rewards differ? An intrinsic reward is the reward (or joy!) that comes from simply performing the activity itself. This could be, for example, baking cookies because, well, you like baking cookies.

Extrinsic rewards, on the other hand, are external motivators such as money, competition, recognition, you name it. For example, you can offer extrinsic rewards such as cash, discounts, gift cards, a point or leaderboard system, and so on. These rewards are a great catalyst to get your employees eating better, completing annual health risk assessments, increasing levels of physical activity or even utilising partnered resources, to name a few.

Once they feel the positive effects of the activity itself, whatever it may be, participation in that activity then becomes the intrinsic reward that creates daily habits and drives behaviour change.

Access  BJ Fogg’s video guide on how behaviour works

Best practices for employee incentive programmes 

It may sound intuitive, but to create incentive programmes that work and make your wellbeing programme sticky, you have to offer rewards that work for your people. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

Prioritise small and frequent rewards 

Rather than higher milestones with a larger lump reward, incorporating a multi-level gamification structure will incentivise your employees to go above and beyond and interact with your programme more frequently.

Reward healthy behaviour with healthy rewards 

Promote the correlation between health and happiness! This can include free workout gear, gift cards towards health-forward restaurants, fitness trackers, discounted fitness classes or gym memberships.

Implement a point system or weekly challenges 

Publicly recognise your champions through email, announcement, or newsletter! Who doesn’t appreciate being recognised for putting in high effort and achieving quality outcomes?

This is also a great way to build up that organisational culture of health and wellbeing without having to dig deep into your pockets.

Get feedback on your employee incentive programme 

Whether its weekly step challenges, premium discounts, or gift cards: you might think you know your workforce best. But obtaining your employees’ feedback allows you to build even better rewards that feel personal and keep your employees increasingly motivated. Since you’re creating an incentive programme for your employees, they should be an integral part of your process.

In our annual survey, 42% of employers stated they ask employees for feedback on their employee wellbeing programme just once a year, while only 35% of employers distributed employee wellbeing communications every month.

At the end of the day, creating incentive programmes for employees should be a continuous learning process. Do what works for your employees and align it with the vision and goals of your organisational culture, and you’ll be sure to see success.

With the Virgin Pulse Global Challenge, you can easily recognise and reward individual and team efforts with a range of fun virtual trophies, printable certificates, points system, Mini Challenges and more. Contact us today to learn more