Research/studies Worker health and wellness Incentives

Financial incentives boost workplace wellness participation, study says

Boston – Employees may be more likely to participate in workplace wellness programs if employers offer financial incentives, according to a new study from Harvard Medical School’s Department of Population Medicine.

Researchers analyzed data gathered on a nonprofit organization’s health plan from October 2010 to July 2013. The plan involved a telephone assistance program in which a health coach discussed with workers their lifestyle, health situation and concerns, as well as the development of health goals.

According to the study, 10 percent of the health plan members who received financial incentives for using the program began the coaching, but only 0.3 percent of the members who were not given a financial incentive used the program.

“Our data show that financial incentives clearly work to motivate participation in a health coach program,” lead author and Harvard Medical School professor Jason Block said in a press release.

The study, presented Nov. 7 at the Obesity Society’s Annual Meeting in Boston, did not research how effective the coaching was in improving worker health. However, Eric Finkelstein, an Obesity Society representative, said in the release that measuring changes in participants’ health behaviors and long-term success of the program is the next step.