Marriott Alumni Magazine

Fall 2019

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a recent challenge, nearly half of participants opted for the paycheck bump, 40 percent chose the gift card, and 10 percent went for a hammock, says Harris. Providing three separate incentives is actually fairly innovative among large orga- nizations, but the paycheck option has con- sistently stayed the top choice. As someone who has seen a number of incentives come and go over her sixteen years directing BYU Wellness, Harris believes that the gift card, which can be used anywhere on BYU campus, is the perfect enticement. "It's a real incentive to employees since they can eat anywhere on campus for free or get something at the bookstore for free," she explains. "It's kind of like your personal slush fund that you can use for anything you want— no budgeting or accounting necessary." But for Harris, the hope is that employees truly get involved for the intrinsic reward rather than just the gift card, cash, or prize. "Our goal is to create healthy work environ- ments and healthy departments," she says. "If you have a healthy work culture, you're going to be happier and healthier yourself. We're trying to provide just enough of an incentive to get people into the game." New Incentives Of course, it's impossible to create a system that perfectly motivates every employee. Each person values different things, and incentives that create changes in behavior are bound to differ from person to person. To that end, companies are continuing to look into new incentives. Former BYU profes- sor and wellness expert Steven Aldana, now the CEO of wellness company WellSteps, recently blogged about some of the incen- tives growing in popularity today. 9 Listed incentives include pricier gift cards (think $500) raffled off biweekly, a drawing for a full day of paid time off, bonuses and merit pay, and significant discounts for off-site fit- ness club memberships. Some companies are already trying out high-value incentive options, such as raffles for TVs, all-expenses- paid trips, or contributions up to $1,000 toward a health reimbursement account. "Tangible rewards at that level may have a different motivational impact than the more modest ones that we studied," Smith says. "But tangible rewards seem to be a trend." Just what that motivational impact is remains to be seen. As such, the profes- sors hope others will continue to study the effectiveness of different types of incentives. "There's enough evidence out there that says doing a wellness program is beneficial," Wood says. "But exactly how to do it? That's where we need more work and tinkering and understanding to design programs that really motivate change." notes 1. Kaiser Family Foundation, Employer Health Benefits 2018 Annual Survey, October 2018, Report-Employer-Health-Benefits-Annual-Survey-2018. 2. National Business Group on Health, "Employers Con- tinue to Expand Well-Being Programs and Increase Financial Incentives for Employers," 3 May 2018, busi- press-release-details/?ID=343. 3. Julie Appleby, "How Well Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work?" NPR, 16 April 2019, health-shots/2019/04/16/713902890/how-well-do-work- place-wellness-programs-work. 4. National Business Group on Health, "Employers Con- tinue to Expand Well-Being Programs." 5. See Damon Jones, David Molitor, and Julian Reif, "What Do Workplace Wellness Programs Do? Evidence from the Illinois Workplace Wellness Study," NBER Working Paper No. 24229, January 2018,; see also William S. Yancy Jr. et al., "Financial Incentive Strate- gies for Maintenance of Weight Loss: Results from an Internet-Based Randomized Controlled Trial," Nutrition & Diabetes 8 (2018): 33, 6. Zirui Song and Katherine Baicker, "Effect of a Workplace Wellness Program on Employee Health and Economic Outcomes," Journal of the American Medical Association 321, no. 15 (2019): 1491–1501, 7. William G. Heninger, Steven D. Smith, and David A. Wood, "Reward Type and Performance: An Examination of Orga- nizational Wellness Programs," Management Accounting Research, 8. Adam Presslee, Thomas W. Vance, and R. Alan Webb, "The Effects of Reward Type on Employee Goal Set- ting, Goal Commitment, and Performance," Incentive Research Foundation, 17 November 2015, research/the-effects-of-reward-type-on-employee-goal- setting-goal-commitment-and-performance/1627. 9. Steve Aldana, "18 Wellness Program Incentive Ideas from the Best Corporate Wellness Programs," WellSteps (blog), updated 7 May 2019, wellness-program-incentive-ideas. About the Author Todd Hollingshead is a media relations manager in BYU's University Communications office. A former journalist, Hollingshead holds a bache- lor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in mass communications from BYU. He lives in Springville, Utah, with his wife, Natalie; their four children; and a dog and a cat. The jury is still out on how long the cat stays. 15 fall 2019

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